11 research outputs found

    Deciphering Radio Emission from Solar Coronal Mass Ejections using High-fidelity Spectropolarimetric Radio Imaging

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    Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are large-scale expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun into the heliosphere and are the most important driver of space weather. The geo-effectiveness of a CME is primarily determined by its magnetic field strength and topology. Measurement of CME magnetic fields, both in the corona and heliosphere, is essential for improving space weather forecasting. Observations at radio wavelengths can provide several remote measurement tools for estimating both strength and topology of the CME magnetic fields. Among them, gyrosynchrotron (GS) emission produced by mildly-relativistic electrons trapped in CME magnetic fields is one of the promising methods to estimate magnetic field strength of CMEs at lower and middle coronal heights. However, GS emissions from some parts of the CME are much fainter than the quiet Sun emission and require high dynamic range (DR) imaging for their detection. This thesis presents a state-of-the-art calibration and imaging algorithm capable of routinely producing high DR spectropolarimetric snapshot solar radio images using data from a new technology radio telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array. This allows us to detect much fainter GS emissions from CME plasma at much higher coronal heights. For the first time, robust circular polarization measurements have been jointly used with total intensity measurements to constrain the GS model parameters, which has significantly improved the robustness of the estimated GS model parameters. A piece of observational evidence is also found that routinely used homogeneous and isotropic GS models may not always be sufficient to model the observations. In the future, with upcoming sensitive telescopes and physics-based forward models, it should be possible to relax some of these assumptions and make this method more robust for estimating CME plasma parameters at coronal heights.Comment: 297 pages, 100 figures, 9 tables. Submitted at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India, Ph.D Thesi

    Deciphering Faint Gyrosynchrotron Emission from Coronal Mass Ejection using Spectro-polarimetric Radio Imaging

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    Measurements of the plasma parameters of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), particularly the magnetic field and non-thermal electron population entrained in the CME plasma, are crucial to understand their propagation, evolution, and geo-effectiveness. Spectral modeling of gyrosynchrotron (GS) emission from CME plasma has been regarded as one of the most promising remote sensing technique for estimating spatially resolved CME plasma parameters. Imaging the very low flux density CME GS emission in close proximity to the Sun with orders of magnitude higher flux density, however, has proven to be rather challenging. This challenge has only recently been met using the high dynamic range imaging capability of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). Although routine detection of GS is now within reach, the challenge has shifted to constraining the large number of free parameters in GS models, a few of which are degenerate, using the limited number of spectral points at which the observations are typically available. These degeneracies can be broken using polarimetric imaging. For the first time, we demonstrate this using our recently developed capability of high fidelity polarimetric imaging on the data from the MWA. We show that spectro-polarimetric imaging, even when only sensitive upper limits on circularly polarization flux density are available, is not only able to break the degeneracies, but also yields tighter constraints on the plasma parameters of key interest than possible with total intensity spectroscopic imaging alone.Comment: Accepted for Publication at the Astrophysical Journal (23 pages, 15 figures, 3 tables

    Characterizing the Spectral Structure of Weak Impulsive Narrowband Quiet Sun Emissions

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    Weak Impulsive Narrowband Quiet Sun Emissions (WINQSEs) are a newly discovered class of radio emission from the solar corona. These emissions are characterized by their extremely impulsive, narrowband and ubiquitous nature. We have systematically been working on their detailed characterization, including their strengths, morphologies, temporal characteristics, energies, etc. This work is the next step in this series and focuses on the spectral nature of WINQSEs. Given that their strength is only a few percent of the background solar emission, we have adopted an extremely conservative approach to reliably identify WINQSES. Only a handful of WINQSEs meet all of our stringent criteria. Their flux densities lie in the 20 - 50 Jy range and they have compact morphologies. For the first time, we estimate their bandwidths and find them to be less than 700 kHz, consistent with expectations based on earlier observations. Interestingly, we also find similarities between the spectral nature of WINQSEs and the solar radio spikes. This is consistent with our hypothesis that the WINQSEs are the weaker cousins of the type-III radio bursts and are likely to be the low-frequency radio counterparts of the nanoflares, originally hypothesized as a possible explanation for coronal heating.Comment: Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journa

    Decade Long Timing Study of the Black Widow Millisecond Pulsar J1544+4937

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    Results from 11 years of radio timing for eclipsing black widow millisecond pulsar (MSP) binary, J1544+4937, is presented in this paper. We report a phase-connected timing model for this MSP, using observations with the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) at multiple frequencies and with Green Bank Telescope (GBT). This is the longest-duration timing study of any galactic field MSP with the GMRT. While extending the timing baseline from the existing 1.5 years to about a decade we report the first detection for a significant value of proper motion (μT\mathrm{\mu_{T}} \sim 10.14(5) mas/year\mathrm{mas/year}) for this pulsar. Temporal variations of dispersion measure (ΔDM 103\mathrm{\Delta DM~ \sim 10^{-3}} pc cm3\mathrm{cm^{-3}}) manifested by significant determination of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order DM derivatives are observed along the line of sight to the pulsar. We also noticed frequency-dependent DM variations of the order of 103 pc cm3\mathrm{10^{-3}~ pc~ cm^{-3}}, which could arise due to spatial electron density variations in the interstellar medium. This study has revealed a secular variation of the orbital period for this MSP for the first time. We investigated possible causes and propose that variation in the gravitational quadrupole moment of the companion could be responsible for the observed temporal changes in the orbital period.Comment: 12 pages, 5 Figures, 2 Table, Accepted in the Astrophysical Journa

    Preparing for Solar and Heliospheric Science with the SKAO: An Indian Perspective

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    The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) is perhaps the most ambitious radio telescope envisaged yet. It will enable unprecedented studies of the Sun, the corona and the heliosphere and help to answer many of the outstanding questions in these areas. Its ability to make a vast previously unexplored phase space accessible, also promises a large discovery potential. The Indian solar and heliospheric physics community have been preparing for this science opportunity. A significant part of this effort has been towards playing a leading role in pursuing science with SKAO precursor instruments. This article briefly summarises the current status of the various aspects of work done as a part of this enterprise and our future goals.Comment: 34 pages, 18 figures, accepted for publication in Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysic

    First Image of the Sun with MeerKAT Solar Observations: Opening a New Frontier in Solar Physics

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    Solar radio emissions provide several unique diagnostics to estimate different physical parameters of the solar corona, which are otherwise simply inaccessible. However, imaging the highly dynamic solar coronal emissions spanning a large range of angular scales at radio wavelengths is extremely challenging. At GHz frequencies, the MeerKAT radio telescope is possibly globally the best-suited instrument at the present time and can provide high-fidelity spectroscopic snapshot solar images. Here, we present the first images of the Sun made using the observations with the MeerKAT at L-band (856 -- 1711 MHz). This work demonstrates the high fidelity of the MeerKAT solar images through a comparison with simulated radio images at the MeerKAT frequencies. The observed images show extremely good mophological similarities with the simulated images. A detailed comparison between the simulated radio map and observed MeerKAT radio images demonstrates that there is significant missing flux density in MeerKAT images at the higher frequencies of the observing band, though it can potentially be estimated and corrected for. We believe once solar observations with the MeerKAT are commissioned, they will not only enable a host of novel studies but also open the door to a large unexplored phase space with significant discovery potential.Comment: Preparing for submission, 14 pages, 9 figure

    Spectroscopic imaging of the sun with MeerKAT: opening a new frontier in solar physics

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    Solar radio emissions provide several unique diagnostics to estimate different physical parameters of the solar corona, which are otherwise simply inaccessible. However, imaging the highly dynamic solar coronal emissions spanning a large range of angular scales at radio wavelengths is extremely challenging. At gigahertz frequencies, MeerKAT radio telescope is possibly globally the best-suited instrument at present for providing high-fidelity spectroscopic snapshot solar images. Here, we present the first published spectroscopic images of the Sun made using the observations with MeerKAT in the 880–1670 MHz band. This work demonstrates the high fidelity of spectroscopic snapshot MeerKAT solar images through a comparison with simulated radio images at MeerKAT frequencies. The observed images show extremely good morphological similarities with the simulated images. Our analysis shows that below ∼900 MHz MeerKAT images can recover essentially the entire flux density from the large angular-scale solar disk. Not surprisingly, at higher frequencies, the missing flux density can be as large as ∼50%. However, it can potentially be estimated and corrected for. We believe once solar observation with MeerKAT is commissioned, it will enable a host of novel studies, open the door to a large unexplored phase space with significant discovery potential, and also pave the way for solar science with the upcoming Square Kilometre Array-Mid telescope, of which MeerKAT is a precursor

    Robust Absolute Solar Flux Density Calibration for the Murchison Widefield Array

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    Sensitive radio instruments are optimized for observing faint astronomical sources, and usually need to attenuate the received signal when observing the Sun. There are only a handful of flux density calibrators that can comfortably be observed with the same attenuation setup as the Sun. Additionally, for wide field-of-view (FoV) instruments like the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) calibrator observations are generally done when the Sun is below the horizon, to avoid the contamination from solar emissions. These considerations imply that the usual radio interferometric approach to flux density calibration is not applicable for solar imaging. A novel technique, relying on a good sky model and detailed characterization of the MWA hardware, was developed for solar flux density calibration for MWA. Though successful, this technique is not general enough to be extended to the data from the extended configuration of the MWA Phase II. Here, we present a robust flux density calibration method for solar observations with MWA independent of the array configuration. We use different approaches—the serendipitous presence of strong sources; detection of numerous background sources using high dynamic range images in the FoV along with the Sun; and observations of strong flux density calibrators with and without the additional attenuation used for solar observations—to obtain the flux scaling parameters required for the flux density calibration. Using the present method, we have achieved an absolute flux density uncertainty ∼10% for solar observations even in the absence of dedicated calibrator observations

    First Systematic Study Reporting the Changes in Eclipse Cutoff Frequency for Pulsar J1544+4937

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    We present results from long-term monitoring of frequency-dependent eclipses of the radio emission from PSR J1544+4937, which is a black widow spider millisecond pulsar (MSP) in a compact binary system. The majority of such systems often exhibit relatively long-duration radio eclipses caused by ablated material from their companion stars. With the wide spectral bandwidth of the upgraded Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, we present the first systematic study of temporal variation of eclipse cutoff frequency. With decade-long monitoring of 39 eclipses for PSR J1544+4937, we notice significant changes in the observed cutoff frequency ranging from 343 ± 7 to ≥740 MHz. We also monitored changes in eclipse cutoff frequency on timescales of tens of days and observed a maximum change of ≥315 MHz between observations that were separated by 22 days. In addition, we observed a change of ∼47 MHz in eclipse cutoff frequency between adjacent orbits, i.e., on timescales of ∼2.9 hr. We infer that such changes in the eclipse cutoff frequency depict an eclipse environment for the PSR J1544+4937 system that is dynamically evolving, where, along with the change in electron density, the magnetic field could also be varying. We also report a significant correlation between the eclipse cutoff frequency and the mass-loss rate of the companion. This study provides the first direct evidence of mass-loss rate affecting the frequency-dependent eclipsing in a spider MSP