Torne Torres, Pablo: Exploring Radio Pulsars With New Technologies. - Bonn, 2017. - Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.
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author = {{Pablo Torne Torres}},
title = {Exploring Radio Pulsars With New Technologies},
school = {Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn},
year = 2017,
month = apr,

note = {Pulsars are rapidly-rotating, highly-magnetized compact neutron stars. Their strong gravitational and magnetic fields, together with the stability of their rotations and the precision with which we can measure them using radio telescopes make pulsars unique laboratories for a wide variety of physical experiments. This thesis presents an investigation of the application of new receiver technologies and observing techniques at different radio wavelengths to the search for and study of pulsars.
Discovering new pulsars always expands our capabilities to do new science. In general, the most exciting pulsars are those in binary systems because of their potential in high-precision tests of General Relativity and other gravity theories, and for constraining the Equation-of-State of ultra-dense matter. I present a search for pulsars in the Galactic Centre, where the probabilities of finding pulsar binaries, including the long-sought pulsar-black hole system, are high. The data were taken with the Effelsberg 100-m radio telescope and used high radio frequencies between 4.85 and 18.95 GHz to partially overcome the strong scattering in the direction to the centre of the Galaxy. With approximately 50 per cent of the results reviewed, no new pulsars have been discovered. We carried out a study of the sensitivity limits of the survey, finding that our sensitivity to Galactic Centre pulsars is highly reduced by the contributions to the total system noise of the Galactic Centre background and the atmosphere. We conclude that the paucity of detections in this and perhaps also previous similar surveys is likely due to insufficient sensitivity, and not a lack of pulsars in the region.
In March 2013, a radio magnetar, one of the rarest types of pulsars, became suddenly visible from the Galactic Centre. I led two multifrequency observing campaigns on this source, SGR J1745-2900, in order to study its radio emission properties. Four different observatories were involved (including simultaneous observations): the Nançay 94-m equivalent, the Effelsberg 100-m, the IRAM 30-m, and the APEX 12-m radio telescopes, allowing us to cover a frequency range from 2.54 to 472 GHz. The observations at the short millimetre range made use of new broad-band instrumentation never before used for pulsar observations. These observations resulted in the detection of SGR J1745-2900 from 2.54 to 291 GHz, providing measurements of its variable flux density, its also-varying spectrum, and evidence for polarized millimetre emission. The detections above 144 GHz are the highest radio frequency detections of pulsed emission from neutron stars to date, results that set new constraints on the still poorly-understood radio emission mechanism of pulsars.
Since the study of the properties of pulsar emission at very high radio frequencies is relevant for understanding the radio emission process, further observations of a sample of six normal pulsars between 87 and 154 GHz were carried out using the IRAM 30-m. The initial results of this ongoing project include the detections of PSR B0355+54 up to 138 GHz, together with flux density measurements. For the other five pulsars, no obvious detections were achieved. Above 87 GHz, our detections of PSR B0355+54 are the highest-frequency detections of emission from a normal pulsar in the radio band, showing that normal pulsars continue emitting in the short millimetre regime. We found no evidence of a flattening or turn-up in the spectrum, a feature that could provide information about the emission mechanism. The intensity of this pulsar apparently decreases at and above 87 GHz, but our results suffer from uncertainties in the calibration and the possible intrinsic intensity variability of the pulsar. Forthcoming precise calibration information about the instrument will allow us to revisit the data providing stronger conclusions on the the nature of PSR B0355+54's apparent varying intensity at the millimetre wavelengths.
In addition to the scientific exploitation of the these four telescopes, I investigated technical aspects of two next-generation radio receivers planned for the the Effelsberg 100-m: the new Ultra-Broad-Band receiver (UBB), and the future Phased Array Feed (PAF). The tests for the UBB included the investigation of its optimum focusing set-up and its frequency-dependent system noise. We found the optimum focus to be that which optimized the gain at the highest frequencies of its operating band. We have also shown that the sensitivity of the UBB was significantly lower when the receiver is installed at the telescope (by a factor ~3) in comparison to measurements taken in the laboratory. Our investigation points to strong Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) as the cause of this sensitivity deficit. I also designed and carried out the first scientific experiment with the UBB during its commissioning: a search for pulsars in detected gamma-ray sources with the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) with no associated counterparts. No new radio pulsars were discovered in this survey, but the data analysis demonstrated that large parts of the observing frequency range (~50-80 per cent) were unusable due to persistent RFI. We also showed that the strong RFI in the local environment made the receiver enter often into saturation. For the PAF, our tests at Effelsberg on a sample element of the future Checkerboard PAF MkII array confirmed that the front-end should be able to operate at Effelsberg without a persistent saturation by RFI. Overall, the results confirm that these new receivers can be used in electromagnetically-polluted areas, but require careful designs of the electronics in order to strongly suppress those frequency ranges particularly polluted by man-made radio signals.},

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