MeerKAT Large Surveys

MeerKAT Large Surveys

The MeerKAT telescope is currently being constructed by the South African Square Kilometer Array project (SKA-SA). The majority of MeerKAT's operational lifetime (before integration into the SKA) will be dedicated to large scientific surveys, spanning a variety of astrophysical themes - from insights to phenomena in our own galaxy, detailed studies of nearby galaxies and deep observations aimed at detecting the neutral gas in galaxies at a cosmological distance.

Researchers from IDIA universities are playing a major role in the MeerKAT Large Survey Projects (MLSPs) - both scientifically and technically:

  • The Hunt for Dynamic and Explosive Radio Transients with MeerKAT (ThunderKAT) - Prof. Patrick Woudt (UCT) is a co-PI.
  • Looking at the Distant Universe with the MeerKAT Array (LADUMA) - Dr. Sarah Blyth (UCT) is a co-PI.
  • The MeerKAT International Giga-Hertz Tuned Extragalactic Exploration (MIGHTEE) - Prof. Russ Taylor (UCT) is a co-PI.
  • MeerKAT HI Observations of Nearby Galaxies - Observing Southern Emitters (MHONGOOSE) - Prof. Erwin de Blok (ASTRON/UCT/Kapteyn) is the PI of this project.
  • The MeerKAT Fornax Survey

These surveys will each require the development and deployment of modernised data processing and Analysis pipelines. A single day's worth of MeerKAT observations will deliver more than 50TB of raw Unprocessed data. The transformation from unprocessed data to scientific product will require the Following steps:

  • Reliable data transfer and management from the MeerKAT archive.
  • Data averaging.
  • Excision of radio frequency interference and analysis of raw data.
  • Initial calibration.
  • Extremely data intensive steps - repeated imaging and calibration (conventionally known as SelfCal).
  • Preparation of radio continuum and spectral line data products.
  • Final imaging.

Additionally, each step will require analysis and visualisation of a huge volume of multi-dimensional data.

IDIA aims to develop the tools and the expertise required to deliver MeerKAT science, through the establishment of several collaborative work packages. These work packages will focus on specific Themes, such as:

  • Data processing
  • Post-processing - Data-mining and multi-wavelength science
  • Visualisation and visual analytics
  • Simulations and the exploration of the unknown