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.
See my work
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 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.|
|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.
| 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.
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
or Google scholar.
- The Discovery of Nulling and Mode Switching Pulsars with CHIME/Pulsar
C. Ng, et al., 2020, ApJ, 903, 2
Pulsars switching between on and off emission states.
- Faraday rotation measures of northern-hemisphere pulsars using CHIME/Pulsar
C. Ng, et al., 2020, MNRAS, 496, 3, 2836-2848
55 new rotation measures plus 25 with improved precision, adds to the understanding of the Galactic magnetic field. Also see media coverage from the Varsity and the Dunlap Institute.
A Shapiro delay detection in the pulsar binary system PSR J1811−2405
C. Ng, et al., 2020, MNRAS, 493, 1, 1261-1267
A binary pulsar with an edge-on orbit, providing a way to weigh the mass of the Neutron Star.
CHIME/FRB Detection of the Original Repeating Fast Radio Burst Source FRB 121102
A. Josephy, P. Chawla, E. Fonseca, C. Ng, et al., 2019, ApJ, 882, 2
CHIME sees more bursts from R1.
Algorithms for FFT Beamforming Radio Interferometers
K. Masui, J. R. Shaw, C. Ng, et al., 2019, ApJ, 879, 1
The mathematics behind the CHIME FFT beamforming technique.
A Second Source of Repeating Fast Radio Bursts
(*corresponding author) the CHIME collaboration, 2019, Nature, 566, 235-238
CHIME sees a second repeating FRB.
PSR J1755−2550: a young radio pulsar with a massive, compact companion
C. Ng, et al., 2018, MNRAS, 476, 4, 4315
A binary pulsar with an unusual evolutionary track.
Pulsar science with the CHIME telescope
C. Ng, et al., 2017, Proceedings of IAU Symposium No. 337, 4
An overview of the CHIME/Pulsar backend and its science goals.
CHIME FRB: An application of FFT beamforming for a radio telescope
C. Ng, et al., 2017, Radio Science Conference (URSI GASS)
The implementation of an FFT technique to form beams on CHIME to optimally search for FRBs.
The HTRU – XII. Galactic plane acceleration search and the discovery of 60 pulsars
C. Ng, et al., 2015, MNRAS, 450, 2922
A targeted search for pulsar in different binaries led to 60 discoveries.
Pulsar searching and timing with the Parkes telescope
C. Ng, 2014, PhD thesis
The 3.5 years of my life spent hunting pulsars.
The HTRU – X. Discovery of four MSPs and updated timing solutions of a further 12
C. Ng, et al., 2014, MNRAS, 439, 1865
A detail study of 16 fast-spinning millisecond pulsars.
A systematic Analysis of the broad Fe Kα line in Neutron Star LMXBs with XMM-Newton
C. Ng, M. Díaz Trigo, M. Cadolle Bel, S. Migliari, 2010, A&A, 522, A96, 25
We find no relativistic effect in the Fe lines which has implications on the emission origin.
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.
My up-coming public talks include:
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).
And some media interviews I did on the CHIME FRB discoveries in early 2019.
- Currently no up-coming talks
My github page
The kotekan correlator framework: I have led the development of the beamforming modules.
Other code repositories to be added soon...
||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
||SOSCIP TalentEdge Fellow – Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto (U of T), Canada
||Post-doctoral position – The University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada
||PhD Student – Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), Germany
||Pre-graduate trainee – European Space Astronomy Centre, Spain
||Research Assistant – University of London Observatory, UK
||PhD in Astronomy – Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), Germany
||MSci Natural Sciences (Astrophysics major) – University College London (UCL), UK
||Dunlap Institute “Dundies award” – media superstar
||URSI Young Scientist Award
||3-minute UBC Postdoc Slam - 2nd prize and the "People's choice" prize
||Best poster award, WE-Heraeus seminar
||5.2 million CPU hours on the CAASTRO computer cluster
||303 telescope hours on the Parkes telescope (PI for project P630, P860)
||Dean’s List Academic Award – UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Academic Scholarships & Funding
||ngVLA Community study award
||SOSCIP TalentEdge Fellowship
||University of Toronto – Dunlap Visitor Funding
||UCL Undergraduate Pathfinder Scholarship
||UCL Old Students’ Trust
||UCL Alumni Scholarships
||UCL Departmental ‘Sessional Prize’
Computing & Software
||C++, C, OpenCL, python, shell
||Sigproc, Presto, Psrchive, Tempo(2)
||macOS, Windows, Linux
||Latex, GIMP, Wiki, EXCEL, d3, HTML, CSS