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The PALFA Survey: Going to great depths to find radio pulsars


Allen,  B.
Observational Relativity and Cosmology, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Lazarus, P., Allen, B., Bhat, N. D. R., Bogdanov, S., Bouchard, A., Brazier, A., et al. (2012). The PALFA Survey: Going to great depths to find radio pulsars. In J. van Leeuwen (Ed.), Neutron Stars and Pulsars: Challenges and Opportunities after 80 years: Proceedings IAU Symposium (pp. 35-40). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The on-going PALFA survey is searching the Galactic plane (|b| < 5 deg., 32 < l < 77 deg. and 168 < l < 214 deg.) for radio pulsars at 1.4 GHz using ALFA, the 7-beam receiver installed at the Arecibo Observatory. By the end of August 2012, the PALFA survey has discovered 100 pulsars, including 17 millisecond pulsars (P < 30 ms). Many of these discoveries are among the pulsars with the largest DM/P ratios, proving that the PALFA survey is capable of probing the Galactic plane for millisecond pulsars to a much greater depth than any previous survey. This is due to the survey's high sensitivity, relatively high observing frequency, and its high time and frequency resolution. Recently the rate of discoveries has increased, due to a new more sensitive spectrometer, two updated complementary search pipelines, the development of online collaborative tools, and access to new computing resources. Looking forward, focus has shifted to the application of artificial intelligence systems to identify pulsar-like candidates, and the development of an improved full-resolution pipeline incorporating more sophisticated radio interference rejection. The new pipeline will be used in a complete second analysis of data already taken, and will be applied to future survey observations. An overview of recent developments, and highlights of exciting discoveries will be presented.