Friday, July 5, 2013

1307.1200 (D. R. Lorimer et al.)

On the detectability of extragalactic fast radio transients    [PDF]

D. R. Lorimer, A. Karastergiou, M. A. McLaughlin, S. Johnston
Recent discoveries of highly dispersed millisecond radio bursts by Thornton et al. in a survey with the Parkes radio telescope at 1.4 GHz point towards an emerging population of sources at cosmological distances whose origin is currently unclear. Here we demonstrate that the scattering effects at lower radio frequencies are less than previously thought, and that the bursts could be detectable at redshifts out to about $z=0.5$ in surveys below 1 GHz. Using a source model in which the bursts are standard candles with bolometric luminosities $\sim 4 \times 10^{44}$ ergs/s uniformly distributed per unit comoving volume, we derive an expression for the observed peak flux density as a function of redshift and use this, together with the rate estimates found by Thornton et al. to find an empirical relationship between event rate and redshift probed by a given survey. The non-detection of any such events in Arecibo 1.4 GHz survey data by Deneva et al., and the Allen Telescope Array survey by Simeon et al. is consistent with our model. Ongoing surveys in the 1--2 GHz band should result in further discoveries. At lower frequencies, assuming a typical spectral index $\alpha=-1.4$, the predicted peak flux densities are 10s of Jy. As a result, surveys of such a population with current facilities would not necessarily be sensitivity limited and could be carried out with small arrays to maximize the sky coverage. We predict that sources may already be present in 350-MHz surveys with the Green Bank Telescope. Surveys at 150 MHz with 30 deg$^2$ fields of view could detect one source per hour above 30 Jy.
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