Colloquium: Gemma Anderson (Curtin University) "Probing extreme astrophysics with rapid-response radio telescopes in the SKA era"

Date & time

11–11.30am 20 March 2017


Duffield Lecture Theatre


Sarah Reeves (University of Sydney)


The radio sky is an extremely dynamic place. Many transients including gamma-ray bursts, supernovae, X-ray binaries, tidal disruption events and flare stars produce bright radio emission. This radio emission is important to observe as it traces relativistic ejecta and non-thermal processes, allowing us to study shocks and particle acceleration, while probing magnetic fields and the ISM. However, the most interesting physics takes place at the very beginning of the transient event but it is difficult to get a prompt follow-up response in the radio band. We are now entering the era of rapid-response radio telescopes that are capable of triggering on transient events detected by missions such as Swift, Fermi and aLIGO. I will discuss results obtained using the rapid-response systems on the Arcminute Microkelvin Imager (AMI; a radio telescope based in the UK) and the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA; based in Western Australia). These experiments are inspiring other telescopes to install similar capabilities, including the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA). I will explain how I plan to use Australian radio telescope to obtain the ealiest observations of short-duration gamma-ray bursts. Such observations will provide vital insight into the early-time radio signatures of gravitational wave events and contribute invaluable knowledge towards optimising transient science condicted with the Square Kilometre Array.

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