Measurement of duration and signal-to-noise ratio of astronomical transients using a Spectral Kurtosis spectrometer

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Following our prior theoretical and instrumental work addressing the problem of automatic real-time radio frequency interference (RFI) detection and excision from astronomical signals, the wideband Spectral Kurtosis (SK) spectrometer design we proposed is currently being considered as an alternative to the traditional spectrometers when building the new generation of radio instruments. The unique characteristic of an SK spectrometer is that it accumulates both power and power-squared, which are then used to compute an SK statistical estimator proven to be very effective in detecting and excising certain types of RFI signals. In this paper we introduce a novel measurement technique that exploits the power and power square statistics of an SK spectrometer to determine durations and signal-to-noise ratios of transient signals, whether they are RFI or natural signals, even when they are below the time resolution of the instrument. We demonstrate this novel experimental technique by analyzing a segment of data recorded by the Expanded Owens Valley Solar Array Subsystem Testbed (EST) during a solar radio burst in which microwave spike bursts occurred with durations shorter than the 20 ms time resolution of the instrument. The duration of one well-observed spike is quantitatively shown to be within a few percent of 8 ms despite the 20 ms resolution of the data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7353-7366
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


  • Spectral Kurtosis
  • dynamic spectrum
  • radio bursts


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