North-South arm detects single pulsar pulses for the first time

We had a major milestone at Molonglo last week — we made the first detections of single pulses from a pulsar on the upgrade of the North-South arm of the telescope.

Data taken as part of the commissioning of the hardware show a neat train of single pulses from Vela — the brightest pulsar in the Southern Hemisphere.

Individual pulses from Vela on two poles — a first for the North-South arm. Both radio polarisations are seen as a function of frequency (y-axis) and time (x-axis). The pulses can be clearly seen in the time series data below each image.

Pulses like these are similar to those seen from Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) — and will allow us to check that we can pinpoint where they are coming from on the sky. We expect to be able to localise the sources to a few seconds of arc in both the East-West and North-South direction, and thus find the distant galaxies from which FRBs originate.

The hardware upgrade is continuing, with about half the final hardware expected to be in position by the end of 2020.