Arecibo pulsar survey using ALFA. I. Survey strategy and first discoveries

J. M. Cordes*, P. C C Freire, D. R. Lorimer, F. Camilo, D. J. Champion, D. J. Nice, R. Ramachandran, J. W T Hessels, W. Vlemmings, J. Van Leeuwen, S. M. Ransom, N. D R Bhat, Z. Arzoumanian, M. A. Mclaughlin, V. M. Kaspi, L. Kasian, J. S. Deneva, B. Reid, S. Chatterjee, J. L. HanD. C. Backer, I. H. Stairs, A. A. Deshpande, C. A. Faucher-Giguère

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


We report results from the initial stage of a long-term pulsar survey of the Galactic plane using the Arecibo L-band Feed Array (ALFA), a seven-beam receiver operating at 1.4 GHz with 0.3 GHz bandwidth, and fast-dump digital spectrometers. The search targets low Galactic latitudes, |b\ ≤ 5°, in the accessible longitude ranges 32° ≤ l ≤ 77° and 168° ≤ l ≤ 214°. The instrumentation, data processing, initial survey observations, sensitivity, and database management are described. Data discussed here were collected over a 100 MHz passband centered on 1.42 GHz using a spectrometer that recorded 256 channels every 64 μs. Analysis of the data with their full time and frequency resolutions is ongoing. Here we report the results of a preliminary, low-resolution analysis for which the data were decimated to speed up the processing. We have detected 29 previously known pulsars and discovered 11 new ones. One of these, PSR J1928+1746, with a period of 69 ms and a relatively low characteristic age of 82 kyr, is a plausible candidate for association with the unidentified EGRET source 3EG J1928+1733. Another, PSR J1906+07, is a nonrecycled pulsar in a relativistic binary with an orbital period of 3.98 hr. In parallel with the periodicity analysis, we also search the data for isolated dispersed pulses. This technique has resulted in the discovery of PSR J0628+09, an extremely sporadic radio emitter with a spin period of 1.2 s. Simulations we have carried out indicate that ∼1000 new pulsars will be found in our ALFA survey. In addition to providing a large sample for use in population analyses and for probing the magnetoionic interstellar medium, the survey maximizes the chances of finding rapidly spinning millisecond pulsars and pulsars in compact binary systems. Our search algorithms exploit the multiple data streams from ALFA to discriminate between radio frequency interference and celestial signals, including pulsars and possibly new classes of transient radio sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-455
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jan 20 2006


  • Pulsars: general
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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