Cherry Ng

Cherry Ng -- Radio Astronomer

PulsarFast Radio BurstSETIInstrumentation I am a research associate at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics. During my PhD study, I have discovered over 100 rapidly-spinning neutron stars with the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia. I then worked on the Canadian CHIME telescope, using it to detect and study “Fast Radio Bursts”, a new astrophysical mystery that involves short bursts of radio waves that have come from far outside our Milky Way galaxy. My hunting effort continues, now in the area of technosignature (SETI). I am the project scientist for the MeerKAT and the Very Large Array (VLA) SETI searches. Me and my team use these two sensitive radio telescope facilities to attempt to answer the question of whether there are other advanced extraterrestrial civilizations in the Universe.

cherry.ng@dunlap.utoronto.ca
linkedin.com/in/cherry-ng
See my work

Research projects

Breakthrough Listen

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Breakthrough Listen is a 10-year, $100-million initiative that aims to search for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). I work with the BL team and am jointly affiliated with the SETI Institute. My main role as a project scientist is to commission interferometric SETI searches on the MeerKAT telescope in South Africa and the Very Large Array (VLA) in the U.S.

CHIME

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CHIME is a recently commissioned radio telescope in British Columbia, Canada. Its innovative design consists of 4 half-pipe-like cylinders placed side by side, spanning a huge collecting area equivalent of 5 hockey arenas. I use CHIME to detect Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) and study pulsars. I work with the LW lab on the deployment of the CHIME correlator and signal processing algorithms in high performance computing on GPU.

NANOGrav

Image credit: David Champion
NANOGrav is the North American Pulsar timing array collaboration that aims to detect Gravitational Waves (GWs) through the monitoring of an ensemble of millisecond pulsars. I work on high precision pulsar timing analysis, in order to maximize NANOGrav's sensitivity towards GW detections.

HTRU

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Using the Parkes Radio telescope in Australia, we conducted the High Time Resolution Universe (HTRU) survey, an all-sky blind search for new pulsars. I have personally discovered 60 pulsars which at the time equated to 2.5% of the entire known population.

If you are a student and interested to work on these projects with me, do get in touch! I am open to supervise University of Toronto undergrads and grad students. In addition, I take summer undergrads through the SURP program. If you are a US citizen it might also be possible to get funding through the NANOGrav IRES program.

Publication list

Last updated: August 2021

Below is a selection of work I have led or majorly contributed to.
For a complete list of the 70+ papers I have co-authored, see ORCID, ResearchGate or Google scholar.


Outreach & Media

Some of my recent public talks include the Toronto CRAM festival and the hugely popular Astronomy on Tap T.O.. If you are looking for a speaker for your next event, don't hesitate to get in touch!

The CRAM festival (April 5, 2019): Find out how we study the expansion of our Universe and hunt for mysterious Fast Radio Bursts with the CHIME telescope.
Astro on Tap T.O. (Nov 22, 2019): CHIME unraveling the mystery of Fast Radio Bursts.
SETI Institute panel discussion (Oct 22, 2020) on single dish vs array telescopes. You can re-watch it on this YouTube link.
Public talk at the David Dunlap Observatory (Nov 7, 2020) on Fast Radio Burst discoveries with the CHIME telescope (YouTube link).
My up-coming public talks include: And some media interviews I did on the CHIME FRB discoveries in early 2019.

Codes

  • My github page
  • The kotekan correlator framework: I have led the development of the beamforming modules.
  • Other code repositories to be added soon...
  • Research experiences

    2021–now Project Scientist – Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto (U of T), Canada and jointly at the SETI Institute and the UC Berkeley SETI Research Center, USA
    2017–2021 SOSCIP TalentEdge Fellow – Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto (U of T), Canada
    2015–17 Post-doctoral position – The University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada
    2010–15 PhD Student – Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), Germany
    Summer 2009 Pre-graduate trainee – European Space Astronomy Centre, Spain
    Summer 2008 Research Assistant – University of London Observatory, UK

    Education

    2010–15 PhD in Astronomy – Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), Germany
    2006–10 MSci Natural Sciences (Astrophysics major) – University College London (UCL), UK

    Awards

    2019 Dunlap Institute “Dundies award” – media superstar
    2017 URSI Young Scientist Award
    2015 3-minute UBC Postdoc Slam - 2nd prize and the "People's choice" prize
    2014 Best poster award, WE-Heraeus seminar
    2010-15 5.2 million CPU hours on the CAASTRO computer cluster
    2010-19 303 telescope hours on the Parkes telescope (PI for project P630, P860)
    2010 Dean’s List Academic Award – UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

    Academic Scholarships & Funding

    2021 ngVLA Community study award
    2017-2020 SOSCIP TalentEdge Fellowship
    2016-17 University of Toronto – Dunlap Visitor Funding
    2006-10 UCL Undergraduate Pathfinder Scholarship
    2009-10 UCL Old Students’ Trust
    2008-09 UCL Alumni Scholarships
    2006-08 UCL Departmental ‘Sessional Prize’

    Computing & Software

    Programming C++, C, OpenCL, python, shell
    Pulsar tools Sigproc, Presto, Psrchive, Tempo(2)
    OS macOS, Windows, Linux
    Others Latex, GIMP, Wiki, EXCEL, d3, HTML, CSS

    Language

    Cantonese Native
    English Fluent
    Mandarin Fluent
    French Intermediate
    German Beginner
    Spanish Beginner