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LEAP: the large European array for pulsars

Abstract : The Large European Array for Pulsars (LEAP) is an experiment that harvests the collective power of Europe's largest radio telescopes in order to increase the sensitivity of high-precision pulsar timing. As part of the ongoing effort of the European Pulsar Timing Array (EPTA), LEAP aims to go beyond the sensitivity threshold needed to deliver the first direct detection of gravitational waves. The five telescopes presently included in LEAP are: the Effelsberg telescope, the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank, the Nan\c cay radio telescope, the Sardinia Radio Telescope and the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. Dual polarization, Nyquist-sampled time-series of the incoming radio waves are recorded and processed offline to form the coherent sum, resulting in a tied-array telescope with an effective aperture equivalent to a 195-m diameter circular dish. All observations are performed using a bandwidth of 128 MHz centered at a frequency of 1396 MHz. In this paper, we present the design of the LEAP experiment, the instrumentation, the storage and transfer of data, and the processing hardware and software. In particular, we present the software pipeline that was designed to process the Nyquist-sampled time-series, measure the phase and time delays between each individual telescope and a reference telescope and apply these delays to form the tied-array coherent addition. The pipeline includes polarization calibration and interference mitigation. We also present the first results from LEAP and demonstrate the resulting increase in sensitivity, which leads to an improvement in the pulse arrival times.
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C. G. Bassa, G. H. Janssen, R. Karuppusamy, M. Kramer, K. J. Lee, et al.. LEAP: the large European array for pulsars. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy P - Oxford Open Option A, 2016, 456 (2), pp.2196-2209. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stv2755⟩. ⟨insu-01369844⟩

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