The ASKAP Variables and Slow Transients (VAST) Pilot Survey

Tara Murphy*, David L. Kaplan, Adam J. Stewart, Andrew O'Brien, Emil Lenc, Sergio Pintaldi, Joshua Pritchard, Dougal Dobie, Archibald Fox, James K. Leung, Tao An, Martin E. Bell, Jess W. Broderick, Shami Chatterjee, Shi Dai, Daniele D'Antonio, Gerry Doyle, B. M. Gaensler, George Heald, Assaf HoreshMegan L. Jones, David McConnell, Vanessa A. Moss, Wasim Raja, Gavin Ramsay, Stuart Ryder, Elaine M. Sadler, Gregory R. Sivakoff, Yuanming Wang, Ziteng Wang, Michael S. Wheatland, Matthew Whiting, James R. Allison, C. S. Anderson, Lewis Ball, K. Bannister, D. C.J. Bock, R. Bolton, J. D. Bunton, R. Chekkala, A. P. Chippendale, F. R. Cooray, N. Gupta, D. B. Hayman, K. Jeganathan, B. Koribalski, K. Lee-Waddell, Elizabeth K. Mahony, J. Marvil, N. M. McClure-Griffiths, P. Mirtschin, A. Ng, S. Pearce, C. Phillips, M. A. Voronkov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The Variables and Slow Transients Survey (VAST) on the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is designed to detect highly variable and transient radio sources on timescales from 5 s to ~5 yr. In this paper, we present the survey description, observation strategy and initial results from the VAST Phase I Pilot Survey. This pilot survey consists of ~162 h of observations conducted at a central frequency of 888 MHz between 2019 August and 2020 August, with a typical rms sensitivity of 0.24 mJy beam-1 and angular resolution of 12 -20 arcseconds. There are 113 fields, each of which was observed for 12 min integration time, with between 5 and 13 repeats, with cadences between 1 day and 8 months. The total area of the pilot survey footprint is 5 131 square degrees, covering six distinct regions of the sky. An initial search of two of these regions, totalling 1 646 square degrees, revealed 28 highly variable and/or transient sources. Seven of these are known pulsars, including the millisecond pulsar J2039-5617. Another seven are stars, four of which have no previously reported radio detection (SCR J0533-4257, LEHPM 2-783, UCAC3 89-412162 and 2MASS J22414436-6119311). Of the remaining 14 sources, two are active galactic nuclei, six are associated with galaxies and the other six have nomulti-wavelength counterparts and are yet to be identified.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere054
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
StatePublished - 12 Oct 2021

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  • Pulsars
  • Radio transient sources
  • Sky surveys
  • Stars


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