J. Hickish

J. Hickish
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J. Hickish

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Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (11)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (3)
Astrophysics of Galaxies (2)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (2)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (1)

Publications Authored By J. Hickish

We describe in general terms the practical use in astronomy of a higher-order statistical quantity called Spectral Kurtosis (SK), and describe the first implementation of SK-enabled firmware in the F-engine (Fourier transform-engine) of a digital FX correlator for Expanded Owens Valley Solar Array (EOVSA). The development of the theory for SK is summarized, leading to an expression for generalized SK that is applicable to both SK spectrometers and those not specifically designed for SK. We also give the means for computing both the SK estimator and thresholds for its application as a discriminator of RFI contamination. Read More

We present the target selection for the Breakthrough Listen search for extraterrestrial intelligence during the first year of observations at the Green Bank Telescope, Parkes Telescope and Automated Planet Finder. On the way to observing 1,000,000 nearby stars in search of technological signals, we present three main sets of objects we plan to observe in addition to a smaller sample of exotica. We choose the 60 nearest stars, all within 5. Read More

Affiliations: 1Oxford, 2Curtin, 3Oxford, 4Alberta, 5Cambridge, 6Cambridge, 7Cambridge, 8Manchester, 9Curtin, Amsterdam, 10Cambridge, 11Cambridge, 12Cambridge, 13Manchester, 14Cambridge, 15AAVSO

The connection between accretion and jet production in accreting white dwarf binary systems, especially dwarf novae, is not well understood. Radio wavelengths provide key insights into the mechanisms responsible for accelerating electrons, including jets and outflows. Here we present densely-sampled radio coverage, obtained with the Arcminute MicroKelvin Imager Large Array, of the dwarf nova SS Cyg during its February 2016 anomalous outburst. Read More

The Collaboration for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research (CASPER) has been working for a decade to reduce the time and cost of designing, building and deploying new digital radio-astronomy instruments. Today, CASPER open-source technology powers over 45 scientific instruments worldwide, and is used by scientists and engineers at dozens of academic institutions. In this paper we catalog the current offerings of the CASPER collaboration, and instruments past and present built by CASPER users and developers. Read More

After more than 26 years in quiescence, the black hole transient V404 Cyg went into a luminous outburst in June 2015, and additional activity was detected in late December of the same year. Here, we present an optical spectroscopic follow-up of the December mini-outburst, together with X-ray, optical and radio monitoring that spanned more than a month. Strong flares with gradually increasing intensity are detected in the three spectral ranges during the ~10 days following the Swift trigger. Read More

The Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) is a staged experiment to measure 21 cm emission from the primordial intergalactic medium (IGM) throughout cosmic reionization ($z=6-12$), and to explore earlier epochs of our Cosmic Dawn ($z\sim30$). During these epochs, early stars and black holes heated and ionized the IGM, introducing fluctuations in 21 cm emission. HERA is designed to characterize the evolution of the 21 cm power spectrum to constrain the timing and morphology of reionization, the properties of the first galaxies, the evolution of large-scale structure, and the early sources of heating. Read More

We present a new method for interferometric imaging that is ideal for the large fields of view and compact arrays common in 21 cm cosmology. We first demonstrate the method with simulations for two very different low frequency interferometers, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and the MIT Epoch of Reionization (MITEoR) Experiment. We then apply the method to the MITEoR data set collected in July 2013 to obtain the first northern sky map from 128 MHz to 175 MHz at about 2 degree resolution, and find an overall spectral index of -2. Read More

GPU-based beamforming is a relatively unexplored area in radio astronomy, possibly due to the assumption that any such system will be severely limited by the PCIe bandwidth required to transfer data to the GPU. We have developed a CUDA-based GPU implementation of a coherent beamformer, specifically designed and optimised for deployment at the BEST-2 array which can generate an arbitrary number of synthesized beams for a wide range of parameters. It achieves $\sim$1. Read More

We report on the MIT Epoch of Reionization (MITEoR) experiment, a pathfinder low-frequency radio interferometer whose goal is to test technologies that improve the calibration precision and reduce the cost of the high-sensitivity 3D mapping required for 21 cm cosmology. MITEoR accomplishes this by using massive baseline redundancy, which enables both automated precision calibration and correlator cost reduction. We demonstrate and quantify the power and robustness of redundancy for scalability and precision. Read More

A new digital backend has been developed for the BEST-2 array at Radiotelescopi di Medicina, INAF-IRA, Italy which allows concurrent operation of an FX correlator, and a direct-imaging correlator and beamformer. This backend serves as a platform for testing some of the spatial Fourier transform concepts which have been proposed for use in computing correlations on regularly gridded arrays. While spatial Fourier transform-based beamformers have been implemented previously, this is to our knowledge, the first time a direct-imaging correlator has been deployed on a radio astronomy array. Read More

Mapping our universe in 3D by imaging the redshifted 21 cm line from neutral hydrogen has the potential to overtake the cosmic microwave background as our most powerful cosmological probe, because it can map a much larger volume of our Universe, shedding new light on the epoch of reionization, inflation, dark matter, dark energy, and neutrino masses. We report on MITEoR, a pathfinder low-frequency radio interferometer whose goal is to test technologies that greatly reduce the cost of such 3D mapping for a given sensitivity. MITEoR accomplishes this by using massive baseline redundancy both to enable automated precision calibration and to cut the correlator cost scaling from N^2 to NlogN, where N is the number of antennas. Read More

Radio transient discovery using next generation radio telescopes will pose several digital signal processing and data transfer challenges, requiring specialized high-performance backends. Several accelerator technologies are being considered as prototyping platforms, including Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). In this paper we present a real-time pipeline prototype capable of processing multiple beams concurrently, performing Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) rejection through thresholding, correcting for the delay in signal arrival times across the frequency band using brute-force dedispersion, event detection and clustering, and finally candidate filtering, with the capability of persisting data buffers containing interesting signals to disk. Read More

We describe an hierarchical, frequency-domain beamforming architecture for synthesising a sky beam from the wideband antenna feeds of digital aperture arrays. The development of densely-packed, all-digital aperture arrays is an important area of research required for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. The design of real-time signal processing systems for digital aperture arrays is currently a central challenge in pathfinder projects worldwide. Read More