Tracking pulsar dispersion measures using the giant metrewave radio telescope

Ahuja, A. L. ; Gupta, Y. ; Mitra, D. ; Kembhavi, A. K. (2005) Tracking pulsar dispersion measures using the giant metrewave radio telescope Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 357 (3). pp. 1013-1021. ISSN 0035-8711

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In this paper, we describe a novel experiment for the accurate estimation of pulsar dispersion measures (DMs) using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope. This experiment was carried out for a sample of 12 pulsars, over a period of more than one year (2001 January to 2002 May) with observations about once every fortnight. At each epoch, the pulsar DMs were obtained from simultaneous dual-frequency observations, without requiring any absolute timing information. The DM estimates were obtained from both the single-pulse data streams and from the average profiles. The accuracy of the DM estimates at each epoch is ~1 part in 104 or better, making the data set useful for many different kinds of studies. The time-series of DMs shows significant variations on time-scales of weeks to months for most of the pulsars. An analysis of the mean DM values from these data shows significant deviations from catalogue values (as well as from other estimates in the literature) for some of the pulsars, with PSR B1642-03 showing the most notable differences. From our analysis results it appears that the constancy of pulsar DMs (at the level of 1 in 103 or better) cannot be taken for granted. For PSR B2217+47, we see evidence of a large-scale DM gradient over a 1-yr period, which is modelled as being due to a blob of enhanced electron density sampled by the line of sight. For some pulsars, including pulsars with fairly simple profiles such as PSR B1642-03, we find evidence for small changes in DM values for different frequency pairs of measurement, a result that needs to be investigated in detail. Another interesting result is that we find significant differences in DM values obtained from average profiles and single-pulse data.

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