Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world largest single dish radio telescope, began commissioning on 25th September, 2016. In February 2019, it announced call for proposal publicly to Chinese astronomers. More than 133 proposals from 21 institutions including the University of Hong Kong were received. Granted proposals started to arrange observations on 18th April, 2019.
In its recent tracking observation of the Fast Radio Burst (FRB) FRB121102 using FAST L-band 19-beam receiver (with FWHM of ~2.95' for individual beam), FAST detected multiple bursts.
The bursts were firstly identified by the FAST FRB backend on August 29th (UT), which performs real time signal processing of 19-beam data and automatic candidate selection/triggering. The subsequent single pulse search using multiple pipelines have turned up many tens of pulses with significant SNR in observations carried out so far, from 29th August to 3rd September (UT).
The total number of bursts detected from FRB121102 this time is known to be the highest by far. Careful cross-check and further processing are being carried out.
FAST FRB backend was developed by researchers from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), and the collaborators from UC Berkeley, Beijing Normal University and Xinjiang Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It passed technical review and final project review in November 2018 and was rated as excellent NAOC project.
The FAST FRB backend system has high-efficiency real-time pulse capture capability, and can observe in parallel with most observation tasks. It will play an important role in the discovery of new FRBs, improving the position accuracy and capturing the high-resolution absorption lines generated by FRB in real time.
FRB are the brightest burst in radio band currently known in the universe, but there is no reasonable explanation for their origin. The repeated bursts detection of FAST will promote the research on understanding the origin and physical mechanism of FRB.
FAST has been targeting FRB 121102 since April 2019, and is executing more observations under the auspice of engineering testing time and multiple approved PI-led programs. In addition to the regular on-going FRB follow-up programs, the current observation was also motivated by timely and valuable alerts from the colleagues in the INTEGRAL team, Arecibo team, Max-Plank Institute for Radio Astronomy, Berkeley, and Cornell University.
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