VAST - An ASKAP Survey for Variables and Slow Transients is a Survey Science Project for the Australian SKA Pathfinder.
ASKAP will give us an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the transient sky at radio wavelengths. Its wide-field survey capabilities will enable the discovery and investigation of variable and transient phenomena from the local to the cosmological, including flare stars, intermittent pulsars, X-ray binaries, magnetars, extreme scattering events, intra-day variables, radio supernovae and orphan afterglows of gamma ray bursts.
In addition ASKAP probes unexplored regions of phase space where new classes of transient sources may be detected. We plan to run a comprehensive program based on a multi-tiered survey strategy to characterise the radio transient sky through detection and monitoring of transient and variable sources.
The science goals for our survey are:
- to determine the origin and nature of the structures responsible for extreme scattering events;
- to provide a direct detection of baryons in the intergalactic medium;
- to detect and monitor `orphan' gamma-ray burst afterglows to understand their nature;
- to conduct an unbiased survey of radio supernovae in the local Universe;
- to discover flaring magnetars, intermittent or deeply nulling radio pulsars, and rotating radio transients through changes in their pulse-averaged emission;
- to detect and monitor flare stars, cataclysmic variables and X-ray binaries in our Galaxy; and
- to discover previously unknown classes of objects.