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Exploring the Dynamic Radio Sky: The Search for Slow Transients with the VLA


Mooley, Kunal Prakash (2015) Exploring the Dynamic Radio Sky: The Search for Slow Transients with the VLA. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology.


While synoptic surveys in the optical and at high energies have revealed a rich discovery phase space of slow transients, a similar yield is still awaited in the radio. Majority of the past blind surveys, carried out with radio interferometers, have suffered from a low yield of slow transients, ambiguous transient classifications, and contamination by false positives. The newly-refurbished Karl G. Jansky Array (Jansky VLA) offers wider bandwidths for accurate RFI excision as well as substantially-improved sensitivity and survey speed compared with the old VLA. The Jansky VLA thus eliminates the pitfalls of interferometric transient search by facilitating sensitive, wide-field, and near-real-time radio surveys and enabling a systematic exploration of the dynamic radio sky. This thesis aims at carrying out blind Jansky VLA surveys for characterizing the radio variable and transient sources at frequencies of a few GHz and on timescales between days and years. Through joint radio and optical surveys, the thesis addresses outstanding questions pertaining to the rates of slow radio transients (e.g. radio supernovae, tidal disruption events, binary neutron star mergers, stellar flares, etc.), the false-positive foreground relevant for the radio and optical counterpart searches of gravitational wave sources, and the beaming factor of gamma-ray bursts. The need for rapid processing of the Jansky VLA data and near-real-time radio transient search has enabled the development of state-of-the-art software infrastructure. This thesis has successfully demonstrated the Jansky VLA as a powerful transient search instrument, and it serves as a pathfinder for the transient surveys planned for the SKA-mid pathfinder facilities, viz. ASKAP, MeerKAT, and WSRT/Apertif.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:transients; radio interferometer; slow; long duration; supernova; gamma-ray burst; flare; tidal disruption; neutron star merger; active binary; caltech nrao stripe 82 survey; Galactic; extragalactic; star; galaxy;
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Astrophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R. (co-advisor)
  • Hallinan, Gregg W. (co-advisor)
  • Frail, Dale A. (co-advisor)
  • Myers, Steven T. (co-advisor)
Group:Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Phinney, E. Sterl (chair)
  • Hallinan, Gregg W.
  • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.
  • Hillenbrand, Lynne A.
  • Myers, Steven T.
Defense Date:25 February 2015
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Grote Reber fellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03222015-185636984
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Ch. 2 adapted for Ch. 2 adapted for Ch. 3 adapted for Ch. 3 adapted for Appendix A adapted for Appendix A
Mooley, Kunal Prakash0000-0002-2557-5180
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8800
Deposited By: Kunal Mooley
Deposited On:06 May 2015 20:31
Last Modified:30 May 2023 22:25

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