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Session 74 - Ground-Based Instruments.
Display session, Wednesday, January 17
North Banquet Hall, Convention Center

[74.07] A Wide Bandwidth Digital Recording System for Pulsar Astronomy

F. A. Jenet, S. C. Unwin, T. A. Prince (Caltech)

We have developed a powerful and flexible data acquisition system for pulsar astronomy, based on a 50 Mbyte/s commercial instrumentation tape recorder and a custom analog-digital VLSI digitizer chip. This system converts the problem of pulsar detection from largely hardware-oriented to mostly software-oriented. We are using the 512-node Intel Paragon XPS and Touchstone Delta supercomputers at Caltech for pulsar searching and analysis.

The detection of fast pulsars requires rapid time sampling, and (2) the ability to correct for dispersion (frequency-dependent time delay caused by charged particles in the interstellar medium). A conventional hardware approach involves a filterbank or correlator at the telescope, then sampling and recording the detected power. Our telescope hardware is relatively simple, performing only downconversion from RF or IF to baseband, followed by Nyquist sampling and (2-bit) digitizing the voltage\/ signal by the custom VLSI chip, then storage on ANSI D1 videocassette. One D1-L cassette allows continuous recording of two polarizations each with 50 MHz bandwidth for 32 minutes, or 25 MHz for 64 minutes.

In software we can de-disperse the pulse signals by synthesizing a filterbank with an arbitrary number of frequency channels. Coherent dedispersion can be performed on the voltage (but not power) data, allowing time resolutions down to the inverse RF bandwidth to be achieved in principle.

We present first results from observations in July 1995 at the 64-m telescope at Parkes Observatory, Australia Telescope National Facility. These results on known pulsars, including faint globular cluster millisecond-period pulsars, demonstrate the capabilities of our data recording and analysis system.

Program listing for Wednesday