FRB 20121102A: images of the bursts and the varying radio counterpart
Abstract:As more Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are being localized, we are learning that some fraction have persistent radio sources (PRSs). Such a discovery motivates an improvement in our understanding of the nature of those counterparts, the relation to the bursts themselves and why only some FRBs have PRSs. We report on observations made of FRB 20121102A with the MeerKAT radio telescope. Across five epochs, we detect the PRS associated with FRB 20121102A. Our observations are split into a cluster of four epochs (MJD 58732-58764) and a separate single epoch about 1000 d later. The measured flux density is constant across the first four observations but then decays by more than one-third in the final observation. Our observations on MJD 58736 coincided with the detections of 11 bursts from FRB 20121102A by the MeerTRAP backend, seven of which we detected in the image plane. We discuss the importance of image plane detections when considering the commensal transient searches being performed with MeerKAT and other radio facilities. We find that MeerKAT is so sensitive that within a 2-s image, we can detect any FRB with a flux density above 2.4 mJy at 1.3 GHz and so could localize every FRB that has been detected by CHIME to date.
Heavy element production in a compact object merger observed by JWST.
Abstract:The mergers of binary compact objects such as neutron stars and black holes are of central interest to several areas of astrophysics, including as the progenitors of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs)1, sources of high-frequency gravitational waves (GW)2 and likely production sites for heavy element nucleosynthesis via rapid neutron capture (the r-process)3. Here we present observations of the exceptionally bright gamma-ray burst GRB 230307A. We show that GRB 230307A belongs to the class of long-duration gamma-ray bursts associated with compact object mergers4-6, and contains a kilonova similar to AT2017gfo, associated with the gravitational-wave merger GW1708177-12. We obtained James Webb Space Telescope mid-infrared (mid-IR) imaging and spectroscopy 29 and 61 days after the burst. The spectroscopy shows an emission line at 2.15 microns which we interpret as tellurium (atomic mass A=130), and a very red source, emitting most of its light in the mid-IR due to the production of lanthanides. These observations demonstrate that nucleosynthesis in GRBs can create r-process elements across a broad atomic mass range and play a central role in heavy element nucleosynthesis across the Universe.
Impact of Galactic dust non-Gaussianity on searches for B-modes from inflation
Commensal Transient Searches in Eight Short Gamma Ray Burst Fields
A new generation of radio telescopes with excellent sensitivity, instantaneous uv coverage, and large fields of view, are providing unprecedented opportunities for performing commensal transient searches. Here we present such a commensal search in deep observations of short gamma-ray burst fields carried out with the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa at 1.3 GHz. These four hour observations of eight different fields span survey lengths of weeks to months. We also carry out transient searches in time slices of the full observations, at timescales of 15 minutes, and 8 seconds. We find 122 variable sources on the long timescales, of which 52 are likely active galactic nuclei, but there are likely also some radio flaring stars. While the variability is intrinsic in at least two cases, most of it is consistent with interstellar scintillation. In this study, we also place constraints on transient rates based on state-of-the-art transient simulations codes. We place an upper limit of 2 × 10−4 transients per day per square degree for transients with peak flux of 5 mJy, and an upper limit of 2.5 × 10−2 transients per day per square degree for transients with a fluence of 10 Jy ms, the minimum detectable fluence of our survey.