ASIAA Summer Students Program
ASIAA Summer Student Program 2023
July 3 - August 31

2023 Project Description

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Understanding Extreme Scattering Events Through Pulsar Scintillometry
This project can be carried out remotely.

Data analysis
Interstellar medium
Radio astronomy


Daniel Baker
Find out more about supervisors on ASIAA website

Task Description and Goals

As pulsar radio emission travels towards Earth, structures within the Interstellar Medium (ISM) act as lenses resulting in formation of multiple images of the pulsar whose signals interfere when observed from Earth. As the Earth, ISM, and pulsar move, the line of sight explores these structures helping to expand our understanding of what they are and how they can impact other observations. Typical observations are dominated by long linear structures that persist over months or years. Occasionally, however, pulsars sweep past a structure producing only a single very bright image. These events may help shed light on the enigmatic Extreme Scattering Events (ESEs) seen in quasar observations.

In this project we will study one such event discovered in archival data of pulsar B1133+16. Using recent tools from pulsar scintillometry, the student will track the structure as the pulsar moves past it in order to measure its properties (distance, size, and maximum deflection angle) to determine if it could cause an ESE when passing in front of a quasar. Additionally, the line of sight to the pulsar appears to pass closer to the lens than previously studied events and so presents the opportunity to test models of the types of structures that may be responsible in a new regime.

Required Background

Project relies on an existing Python code base so experience is a plus but not mandatory.

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