SKA-Era Pulsar Software

Image Courtesy of NASA

Radio pulsars are heavily magnetised neutron stars emitting radio waves in two beams, misaligned from their rotation axis, in a lighthouse-like effect. If one, or both, of these beams happens to sweep past Earth, we can try to detect these apparent pulsations. Pulsars are extremely versatile laboratories of physics and enable many studies.

While many fundamental physics experiments based on pulsar observatiosn are finished or underway, we are entering a new era with many new facilities and instruments either recently completed or under development. The data from these new facilities tends to be a lot more voluminous and more detailed than the data recorded in the previous experiments. The existing software, file formats, and data analysis strategies are not well suited for analysing such data.

In this project, we are working with research using the MeerKAT telescope, a pathfinder for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), in the MeerTime group, as well as with researches utilising the ultra-wide-bandwidth, low-frequency receiver (“UWL”, see here) to improve the data provenance, transport, access, and processing, software performance and file formats to facilitate best outcomes from these exciting projects.

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