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The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together
programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an electronically steered low-frequency (<300 MHz) radio interferometer, with a ‘slew’ time less than 8 s. Low-frequency (∼100 MHz) radio telescopes are ideally suited for rapid response follow-up of transients due to their large field of view, the inverted spectrum of coherent emission, and the fact that the dispersion delay between a 1 GHz and 100 MHz pulse is on the order of 1–10 min for dispersion measures of 100–2000 pc/cm3. The MWA has previously been used to provide fast follow-up for transient events including gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), fast radio bursts (FRBs), and gravitational waves, using systems that respond to gamma-ray coordinates network packet-based notifications. We describe a system for automatically triggering MWA observations of such events, based on Virtual Observatory Event standard triggers, which is more flexible, capable, and accurate than previous systems. The system can respond to external multi-messenger triggers, which makes it well-suited to searching for prompt coherent radio emission from GRBs, the study of FRBs and gravitational waves, single pulse studies of pulsars, and rapid follow-up of high-energy superflares from flare stars. The new triggering system has the capability to trigger observations in both the regular correlator mode (limited to ≥0.5 s integrations) and using the Voltage Capture System (VCS, 0.1 ms integration) of the MWA and represents a new mode of operation for the MWA. The upgraded standard correlator triggering capability has been in use since MWA observing semester 2018B (July–Dec 2018), and the VCS and buffered mode triggers will become available for observing in a future semester.
Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) data analysis requires unprecedented levels of accuracy in radio interferometer pipelines. We have developed an imaging power spectrum analysis to meet these requirements and generate robust 21 cm EoR measurements. In this work, we build a signal path framework to mathematically describe each step in the analysis, from data reduction in the Fast Holographic Deconvolution (FHD) package to power spectrum generation in the εppsilon package. In particular, we focus on the distinguishing characteristics of FHD/εppsilon: highly accurate spectral calibration, extensive data verification products, and end-to-end error propagation. We present our key data analysis products in detail to facilitate understanding of the prominent systematics in image-based power spectrum analyses. As a verification to our analysis, we also highlight a full-pipeline analysis simulation to demonstrate signal preservation and lack of signal loss. This careful treatment ensures that the FHD/εppsilon power spectrum pipeline can reduce radio interferometric data to produce credible 21 cm EoR measurements.
We apply two methods to estimate the 21-cm bispectrum from data taken within the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) project of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). Using data acquired with the Phase II compact array allows a direct bispectrum estimate to be undertaken on the multiple redundantly spaced triangles of antenna tiles, as well as an estimate based on data gridded to the uv-plane. The direct and gridded bispectrum estimators are applied to 21 h of high-band (167–197 MHz; z = 6.2–7.5) data from the 2016 and 2017 observing seasons. Analytic predictions for the bispectrum bias and variance for point-source foregrounds are derived. We compare the output of these approaches, the foreground contribution to the signal, and future prospects for measuring the bispectra with redundant and non-redundant arrays. We find that some triangle configurations yield bispectrum estimates that are consistent with the expected noise level after 10 h, while equilateral configurations are strongly foreground-dominated. Careful choice of triangle configurations may be made to reduce foreground bias that hinders power spectrum estimators, and the 21-cm bispectrum may be accessible in less time than the 21-cm power spectrum for some wave modes, with detections in hundreds of hours.
We provide the first in situ measurements of antenna element beam shapes of the Murchison Widefield Array. Most current processing pipelines use an assumed beam shape, which can cause absolute and relative flux density errors and polarisation ‘leakage’. Understanding the primary beam is then of paramount importance, especially for sensitive experiments such as a measurement of the 21-cm line from the epoch of reionisation, where the calibration requirements are so extreme that tile to tile beam variations may affect our ability to make a detection. Measuring the primary beam shape from visibilities is challenging, as multiple instrumental, atmospheric, and astrophysical factors contribute to uncertainties in the data. Building on the methods of Neben et al. [Radio Sci., 50, 614], we tap directly into the receiving elements of the telescope before any digitisation or correlation of the signal. Using ORBCOMM satellite passes we are able to produce all-sky maps for four separate tiles in the XX polarisation. We find good agreement with the beam model of Sokolowski et al. [2017, PASA, 34, e062], and clearly observe the effects of a missing dipole from a tile in one of our beam maps. We end by motivating and outlining additional on-site experiments.
We describe the motivation and design details of the ‘Phase II’ upgrade of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope. The expansion doubles to 256 the number of antenna tiles deployed in the array. The new antenna tiles enhance the capabilities of the Murchison Widefield Array in several key science areas. Seventy-two of the new tiles are deployed in a regular configuration near the existing array core. These new tiles enhance the surface brightness sensitivity of the array and will improve the ability of the Murchison Widefield Array to estimate the slope of the Epoch of Reionisation power spectrum by a factor of ∼3.5. The remaining 56 tiles are deployed on long baselines, doubling the maximum baseline of the array and improving the array u, v coverage. The improved imaging capabilities will provide an order of magnitude improvement in the noise floor of Murchison Widefield Array continuum images. The upgrade retains all of the features that have underpinned the Murchison Widefield Array’s success (large field of view, snapshot image quality, and pointing agility) and boosts the scientific potential with enhanced imaging capabilities and by enabling new calibration strategies.
Elevated circulating cholesterol levels are a risk factor for CVD which is also associated with sub-optimal vascular function. There is emerging evidence that anthocyanins can cause beneficial cardio-protective effects by favourably modulating lipoprotein profiles. We compared the effects of blood orange juice which is rich in anthocyanins and blonde orange juice without anthocyanins on LDL-cholesterol and other biomarkers of CVD risk, vascular function and glycaemia. In all, forty-one participants (aged 25–84 years) with a waist circumference >94 cm (men) and >80 cm (women) completed a randomised, open label, two-arm cross-over trial. For 28 d participants ingested (i) 500 ml blood orange juice providing 50 mg anthocyanins/d and (ii) 500 ml blonde orange juice without anthocyanins. There was a minimum 3-week washout period between treatments. LDL-cholesterol and other biomarkers associated with CVD risk and glycaemia were assessed at the start and end of each treatment period. No significant differences were observed in total, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol, TAG, glucose, fructosamine, nitric oxide, C-reactive protein, aortic systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure or carotid-femoral and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity after 28 d ingestion of blood orange juice compared with standard orange juice. The lack of effect on LDL-cholesterol may be due to the modest concentration of anthocyanins in the blood orange juice.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
We investigate the question of how plasma currents circulate and close in the scrape-off-layer (SOL) of convection-limited tokamak plasmas. A simplified two-fluid model describes how currents must evacuate charge at the sheaths due to cross-field currents that are not divergence-free. These include turbulence-driven polarization currents and poloidally asymmetric equilibrium diamagnetic currents. The theory provides an estimate for the radial profile of the floating potential, which reveals a dipolar structure like the one observed experimentally. Simulations with a fluid turbulence code provide evidence for the predicted behaviour of currents and floating potential.
Traditionally, personalised nutrition was delivered at an individual level. However, the concept of delivering tailored dietary advice at a group level through the identification of metabotypes or groups of metabolically similar individuals has emerged. Although this approach to personalised nutrition looks promising, further work is needed to examine this concept across a wider population group. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to: (1) identify metabotypes in a European population and (2) develop targeted dietary advice solutions for these metabotypes. Using data from the Food4Me study (n 1607), k-means cluster analysis revealed the presence of three metabolically distinct clusters based on twenty-seven metabolic markers including cholesterol, individual fatty acids and carotenoids. Cluster 2 was identified as a metabolically healthy metabotype as these individuals had the highest Omega-3 Index (6·56 (sd 1·29) %), carotenoids (2·15 (sd 0·71) µm) and lowest total saturated fat levels. On the basis of its fatty acid profile, cluster 1 was characterised as a metabolically unhealthy cluster. Targeted dietary advice solutions were developed per cluster using a decision tree approach. Testing of the approach was performed by comparison with the personalised dietary advice, delivered by nutritionists to Food4Me study participants (n 180). Excellent agreement was observed between the targeted and individualised approaches with an average match of 82 % at the level of delivery of the same dietary message. Future work should ascertain whether this proposed method could be utilised in a healthcare setting, for the rapid and efficient delivery of tailored dietary advice solutions.
We describe the design and performance of the Engineering Development Array, which is a low-frequency radio telescope comprising 256 dual-polarisation dipole antennas working as a phased array. The Engineering Development Array was conceived of, developed, and deployed in just 18 months via re-use of Square Kilometre Array precursor technology and expertise, specifically from the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope. Using drift scans and a model for the sky brightness temperature at low frequencies, we have derived the Engineering Development Array’s receiver temperature as a function of frequency. The Engineering Development Array is shown to be sky-noise limited over most of the frequency range measured between 60 and 240 MHz. By using the Engineering Development Array in interferometric mode with the Murchison Widefield Array, we used calibrated visibilities to measure the absolute sensitivity of the array. The measured array sensitivity matches very well with a model based on the array layout and measured receiver temperature. The results demonstrate the practicality and feasibility of using Murchison Widefield Array-style precursor technology for Square Kilometre Array-scale stations. The modular architecture of the Engineering Development Array allows upgrades to the array to be rolled out in a staged approach. Future improvements to the Engineering Development Array include replacing the second stage beamformer with a fully digital system, and to transition to using RF-over-fibre for the signal output from first stage beamformers.
The main objective of this work was to evaluate technologies that have potential for monitoring aspects related to spatial and temporal variability of soil nutrients and pasture yield and for support to decision making by the farmers. Three types of sensors were evaluated: an electromagnetic induction sensor, an active optical sensor and a capacitance probe. The results are relevant for the selection of the adequate sensing system for each particular application and to open new perspectives for other works that would allow the testing, calibration and validation of the sensors in a wider range of pasture production conditions and rainfall patterns, characteristic of the Mediterranean region.
Individual response to dietary interventions can be highly variable. The phenotypic characteristics of those who will respond positively to personalised dietary advice are largely unknown. The objective of this study was to compare the phenotypic profiles of differential responders to personalised dietary intervention, with a focus on total circulating cholesterol. Subjects from the Food4Me multi-centre study were classified as responders or non-responders to dietary advice on the basis of the change in cholesterol level from baseline to month 6, with lower and upper quartiles defined as responder and non-responder groups, respectively. There were no significant differences between demographic and anthropometric profiles of the groups. Furthermore, with the exception of alcohol, there was no significant difference in reported dietary intake, at baseline. However, there were marked differences in baseline fatty acid profiles. The responder group had significantly higher levels of stearic acid (18 : 0, P=0·034) and lower levels of palmitic acid (16 : 0, P=0·009). Total MUFA (P=0·016) and total PUFA (P=0·008) also differed between the groups. In a step-wise logistic regression model, age, baseline total cholesterol, glucose, five fatty acids and alcohol intakes were selected as factors that successfully discriminated responders from non-responders, with sensitivity of 82 % and specificity of 83 %. The successful delivery of personalised dietary advice may depend on our ability to identify phenotypes that are responsive. The results demonstrate the potential use of metabolic profiles in identifying response to an intervention and could play an important role in the development of precision nutrition.
We have compiled a catalogue of H ii regions detected with the Murchison Widefield Array between 72 and 231 MHz. The multiple frequency bands provided by the Murchison Widefield Array allow us identify the characteristic spectrum generated by the thermal Bremsstrahlung process in H ii regions. We detect 306 H ii regions between 260° < l < 340° and report on the positions, sizes, peak, integrated flux density, and spectral indices of these H ii regions. By identifying the point at which H ii regions transition from the optically thin to thick regime, we derive the physical properties including the electron density, ionised gas mass, and ionising photon flux, towards 61 H ii regions. This catalogue of H ii regions represents the most extensive and uniform low frequency survey of H ii regions in the Galaxy to date.
The infection status of angiostrongylosis in Jamaica was assessed in wild rats and molluscs in the 5 years following the major outbreak of eosinophilic meningitis (EM) in 2000. Parasitological analyses of 297 Rattus rattus and 140 Rattus norvegicus, and 777 terrestrial molluscs from all 14 Parishes on the island revealed Angiostrongylus cantonensis in 32·0% of the rats and in 12·5% of the molluscs. Multivariate analyses confirmed that A. cantonensis occurred significantly more frequently in R. rattus (Odds Ratio [OR] = 1·76), while mean infection intensity in R. rattus was also significantly higher (16·8) than R. norvegicus (11·3) (Mann–Whitney U-test: P = 0·01). Third-stage larvae of A. cantonensis were detected in 29% of 86 Pleurodonte spp.; in 20% of five Poteria spp.; in 18·7% of 369 Thelidomus asper; in 11% of 18 Sagda spp.; and in 6% of 24 veronicellid slugs. Most rodent infections occurred in Northeastern Jamaica (OR = 11·66), a region where infected molluscs were also abundant. Given the prevalence of A. cantonensis infection in rats has significantly increased since the 2000 outbreak, and that a survey of human infections revealed at least ten autochthonous cases in the last 15 years, angiostrongylosis persists as an important zoonosis in Jamaica.
The interplay between the fat mass- and obesity-associated (FTO) gene variants and diet has been implicated in the development of obesity. The aim of the present analysis was to investigate associations between FTO genotype, dietary intakes and anthropometrics among European adults. Participants in the Food4Me randomised controlled trial were genotyped for FTO genotype (rs9939609) and their dietary intakes, and diet quality scores (Healthy Eating Index and PREDIMED-based Mediterranean diet score) were estimated from FFQ. Relationships between FTO genotype, diet and anthropometrics (weight, waist circumference (WC) and BMI) were evaluated at baseline. European adults with the FTO risk genotype had greater WC (AAv. TT: +1·4 cm; P=0·003) and BMI (+0·9 kg/m2; P=0·001) than individuals with no risk alleles. Subjects with the lowest fried food consumption and two copies of the FTO risk variant had on average 1·4 kg/m2 greater BMI (Ptrend=0·028) and 3·1 cm greater WC (Ptrend=0·045) compared with individuals with no copies of the risk allele and with the lowest fried food consumption. However, there was no evidence of interactions between FTO genotype and dietary intakes on BMI and WC, and thus further research is required to confirm or refute these findings.
An efficient and robust method to measure vitamin D (25-hydroxy vitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) and 25-hydroxy vitamin D2 in dried blood spots (DBS) has been developed and applied in the pan-European multi-centre, internet-based, personalised nutrition intervention study Food4Me. The method includes calibration with blood containing endogenous 25(OH)D3, spotted as DBS and corrected for haematocrit content. The methodology was validated following international standards. The performance characteristics did not reach those of the current gold standard liquid chromatography-MS/MS in plasma for all parameters, but were found to be very suitable for status-level determination under field conditions. DBS sample quality was very high, and 3778 measurements of 25(OH)D3 were obtained from 1465 participants. The study centre and the season within the study centre were very good predictors of 25(OH)D3 levels (P<0·001 for each case). Seasonal effects were modelled by fitting a sine function with a minimum 25(OH)D3 level on 20 January and a maximum on 21 July. The seasonal amplitude varied from centre to centre. The largest difference between winter and summer levels was found in Germany and the smallest in Poland. The model was cross-validated to determine the consistency of the predictions and the performance of the DBS method. The Pearson’s correlation between the measured values and the predicted values was r 0·65, and the sd of their differences was 21·2 nmol/l. This includes the analytical variation and the biological variation within subjects. Overall, DBS obtained by unsupervised sampling of the participants at home was a viable methodology for obtaining vitamin D status information in a large nutritional study.
We compare first-order (refractive) ionospheric effects seen by the MWA with the ionosphere as inferred from GPS data. The first-order ionosphere manifests itself as a bulk position shift of the observed sources across an MWA field of view. These effects can be computed from global ionosphere maps provided by GPS analysis centres, namely the CODE. However, for precision radio astronomy applications, data from local GPS networks needs to be incorporated into ionospheric modelling. For GPS observations, the ionospheric parameters are biased by GPS receiver instrument delays, among other effects, also known as receiver DCBs. The receiver DCBs need to be estimated for any non-CODE GPS station used for ionosphere modelling. In this work, single GPS station-based ionospheric modelling is performed at a time resolution of 10 min. Also the receiver DCBs are estimated for selected Geoscience Australia GPS receivers, located at Murchison Radio Observatory, Yarragadee, Mount Magnet and Wiluna. The ionospheric gradients estimated from GPS are compared with that inferred from MWA. The ionospheric gradients at all the GPS stations show a correlation with the gradients observed with the MWA. The ionosphere estimates obtained using GPS measurements show promise in terms of providing calibration information for the MWA.
Our aim is to study the Star Formation Rate (SFR) by galaxy components such as bulges, bars and disks in a representative sample of nearby galaxies. A 2-dimensional (2D) photometric decomposition approach (GASP2D) is used to obtain these components. The availability of IFS data for the CALIFA galaxies makes possible to go one step further as we can apply the previous decompositions over 3D datacubes to disentangle the spatial distribution of the SFR over different components free from the limitations associated to narrow-band imaging.