A renaissance in low-frequency pulsar studies with LOFAR

J. W. T. Hessels1,2, A. Bilous3, T. Coenen2, S. Cooper4, V. I. Kondratiev1, J. van Leeuwen1,2, B. W. Stappers4, J. P. W. Verbiest5, K. Zagkouris6 and LOFAR Pulsar Working Group
1ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
2Astronomical Institute ‘Anton Pannekoek’, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
4Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics, University of Manchester, Manchester,UK
5Fakultät für Physik, Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany; Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn, Germany
6Astrophysics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

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A new generation of sparse, digital aperture arrays is revitalizing interest in radio astronomy at the lowest frequencies visible from Earth (10−300 MHz). Together, the Long-Wavelength Array (LWA), Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), and Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) cover a broad range of science, including observations of cosmic magnetic fields, the Sun and (exo)planets, cosmic-ray air showers, transients, and the epoch of reionization. Here I focus on LOFAR observations of pulsars and fast transients. LOFAR’s large fractional bandwidth and wide-field, flexible multi-beaming capabilities present many advantages over past low-frequency instruments. We are exploiting these capabilities to study pulsar magnetospheres, the interstellar medium (using pulsars as probes), and to perform an all-sky search for nearby pulsars and other ‘fast transient’ signals.

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Keywords : Pulsars – LOFAR