Special Issue Articles

The FAST Galactic Plane Pulsar Snapshot Survey. II. Discovery of 76 Galactic Rotating Radio Transients and the Enigma of RRATs

D. J. Zhou, J. L. Han, Jun Xu, Chen Wang, P. F. Wang, Tao Wang, Wei-Cong Jing, Xue Chen, Yi Yan, Wei-Qi. Su et al.


We have carried out the Galactic Plane Pulsar Snapshot (GPPS) survey by using the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), the most sensitive systematic pulsar survey in the Galactic plane. In addition to more than 500 pulsars already discovered through normal periodical search, we report here the discovery of 76 new transient radio sources with sporadic strong pulses, detected by using the newly developed module for a sensitive single-pulse search. Their small DM values suggest that they all are Galactic rotating radio transients (RRATs). They show different properties in the follow-up observations. More radio pulses have been detected from 26 transient radio sources but no periods can be found due to a limited small number of pulses from all FAST observations. The follow-up observations show that 16 transient sources are newly identified as being the prototypes of RRATs with a period already determined from more detected sporadic pulses, and 10 sources are extremely nulling pulsars, and 24 sources are weak pulsars with sparse strong pulses. On the other hand, 48 previously known RRATs have been detected by the FAST, either during verification observations for the GPPS survey or through targeted observations of applied normal FAST projects. Except for one RRAT with four pulses detected in a session of 5-minute observation and four RRATs with only one pulse detected in a session, sensitive FAST observations reveal that 43 RRATs are just generally weak pulsars with sporadic strong pulses or simply very nulling pulsars, so that the previously known RRATs always have an extreme emission state together with a normal hardly detectable weak emission state. This is echoed by the two normal pulsars J1938+2213 and J1946+1449 with occasional brightening pulses. Though strong pulses of RRATs are very outstanding in the energy distribution, their polarization angle variations follow the polarization angle curve of the averaged normal pulse profile, suggesting that the predominant sparse pulses of RRATs are emitted in the same region with the same geometry as normal weak pulsars.


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