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DRAGNET enters operations to participate in LOFAR observations

Submitter: Alexander S. van Amesfoort, on behalf of the DRAGNET team
Description: Almost 2 years ago the DRAGNET project acquired a GPU cluster to search for pulsars and other fast transients. The intended use was also to directly take correlator/beamformer data during an observation. All integration with Radio Observatory software systems needed for smooth operations has now been completed and commissioned. While some of our projects continue to observe to CEP4, we can utilize more observing time at minimal Observatory effort by observing directly to DRAGNET. Data access during observing can also be used for very early data reduction and event detection.

In the image the orange arrows on the left indicate the data flow from antennas through COBALT to CEP4 or DRAGNET. The purple arrows show monitoring and control interactions. In particular, software running on the Support systems and databases (DBs in red) had to be adjusted without breaking existing functionality.

The small plots at the bottom show CPU and cluster network workloads over 24 hrs. DRAGNET should be able to handle twice the usual "full" data rate (green spikes). In the final tests we did 2 short test observations at full data rate on the bright pulsar B1133+16 and on the millisecond pulsar J2145-0750. The observations finished correctly without data loss. Cees Bassa processed the data. The "presto" plots from J2145-0750 on the right show a very clear detection from 6 stations after 15 minutes.

DRAGNET has discovered 3 millisecond pulsars to date in an offline mode (e.g. Bassa, Pleunis & Hessels 2017). With DRAGNET in operations, we aim to greatly increase this yield, and the first such observing proposal has been submitted!

This project has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC grant agreement nr. 337062 (PI Hessels). J.W.T.H. acknowledges funding from an NWO Vidi fellowship.
Copyright: ASTRON
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