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Nanosecond Sampling of the Radio Sky with I-LOFAR's Transient Buffer Boards (TBB)

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posted on 25.06.2018 by Pearse Murphy, Brian Coghlan, John Walsh, Joe McCauley, Griffin Foster, Stephen Bourke, Eoin Carley, Peter Gallagher

The LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) is an interferometeric array that operates at 10-240 MHz, with a central hub in the Netherlands and 13 international stations across Europe [1]. LOFAR’s Transient Buffer Boards (TBBs) allow upwards of 5 s of data to be recorded at a temporal resolution of ~5.12 ns. Here, we described the development of a data acquisition system to capture TBB observations of solar variability from the Irish LOFAR station (I-LOFAR) at Birr Castle in the Irish Midlands. The system consists of a head node controlling 4 processing nodes offering 64 GB of RAM, as well as an initial 48 TB RAID6 storage node.

We present first-light TBB time series data, along with all-sky observations data from a subset of I-LOFAR’s Low Band Antennas (LBAs). We also discuss the development of a software based beamformer for TBB data with plans to observe the sun with dynamic spectra using nanosecond time resolution. This could give a new insight into rapidly varying phenomena in the solar atmosphere.

Funding

Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland

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