ALERT: the Apertif Legacy Exploration of the Radio Transient Sky

Members of the Team: Joeri van Leeuwen, Yogesh Maan, Emily Petroff, Liam Connor, Leon Oostrum, David Gardenier, Klim Mikhailov, Samayra Straal, Daniel van der Schuur, Eric Kooistra, Jonathan Hargreaves, Allessio Sclocco, Jisk Attema

Fast, millisecond transients appear all over the radio sky. These point to extreme energies, magnetic field strengths, gravitational fields, and densities. The physical conditions on display in these sources must far exceed any terrestrial laboratory. Some of these short-lived radio bursts can be traced to one-off flashes from pulsars but a handful of other bursts (the “FRBs”; Lorimer et al. 2007) clearly originate far outside our Galaxy, and defy any explanation. The first aim of the Apertif pulsar and transient survey is to enable major progress in understanding the astrophysics that powers these brief, extremely energetic extragalactic event. 


This survey, hereafter called “ALERT”, the Apertif Legacy Exploration of the Radio Transient Sky, increases by a factor of 10 our exploration volume for such fast transients throughout the Universe. ALERT can detect tens of extragalactic bursts in real-time, and trigger follow-up ranging from e.g. LOFAR, for exceedingly accurate localization; up to optical and x-ray observatories. The second aim of this Apertif pulsar and transient survey is to characterize, to much lower luminosity than before, the population of intermittently active neutron stars, and better understand the Galactic neutron-star population. 

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