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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.
We have detected 27 new supernova remnants (SNRs) using a new data release of the GLEAM survey from the Murchison Widefield Array telescope, including the lowest surface brightness SNR ever detected, G 0.1 – 9.7. Our method uses spectral fitting to the radio continuum to derive spectral indices for 26/27 candidates, and our low-frequency observations probe a steeper spectrum population than previously discovered. None of the candidates have coincident WISE mid-IR emission, further showing that the emission is non-thermal. Using pulsar associations we derive physical properties for six candidate SNRs, finding G 0.1 – 9.7 may be younger than 10 kyr. Sixty per cent of the candidates subtend areas larger than 0.2 deg2 on the sky, compared to < 25% of previously detected SNRs. We also make the first detection of two SNRs in the Galactic longitude range 220°–240°.
This work makes available a further
of the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array (GLEAM) survey, covering half of the accessible galactic plane, across 20 frequency bands sampling 72–231 MHz, with resolution
. Unlike previous GLEAM data releases, we used multi-scale CLEAN to better deconvolve large-scale galactic structure. For the galactic longitude ranges
$345^\circ < l < 67^\circ$
$180^\circ < l < 240^\circ$
, we provide a compact source catalogue of 22 037 components selected from a 60-MHz bandwidth image centred at 200 MHz, with RMS noise
and position accuracy better than 2 arcsec. The catalogue has a completeness of 50% at
, and a reliability of 99.86%. It covers galactic latitudes
towards the galactic centre and
for other regions, and is available from Vizier; images covering
for all longitudes are made available on the GLEAM Virtual Observatory (VO).server and SkyView.
We examined the latest data release from the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array (GLEAM) survey covering 345° < l < 60° and 180° < l < 240°, using these data and that of the Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer to follow up proposed candidate Supernova Remnant (SNR) from other sources. Of the 101 candidates proposed in the region, we are able to definitively confirm ten as SNRs, tentatively confirm two as SNRs, and reclassify five as H ii regions. A further two are detectable in our images but difficult to classify; the remaining 82 are undetectable in these data. We also investigated the 18 unclassified Multi-Array Galactic Plane Imaging Survey (MAGPIS) candidate SNRs, newly confirming three as SNRs, reclassifying two as H ii regions, and exploring the unusual spectra and morphology of two others.
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.
The Murchison Widefield Array is a low-frequency Square Kilometre Array precursor located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. Primarily designed as an imaging telescope, but with a flexible signal path, the capabilities of this telescope have recently been extended to include off-line incoherent and tied-array beam formation using recorded antenna voltages. This has provided the capability for high-time and frequency resolution observations, including a pulsar science program. This paper describes the algorithms and pipeline that we have developed to form the tied-array beam products from the summation of calibrated signals of the antenna elements, and presents example polarimetric profiles for PSRs J0437-4715 and J1900-2600 at 185 MHz.
A power MOSFET-based push–pull configuration nanosecond-pulse generator has been designed, constructed, and characterized to permeabilize cells for biological and medical applications. The generator can deliver pulses with durations ranging from 80 ns up to 1 µs and pulse amplitudes up to 1.4 kV. The unit has been tested for in vitro experiments on a medulloblastoma cell line. Following the exposure of cells to 100, 200, and 300 ns electric field pulses, permeabilization tests were carried out, and viability tests were conducted to verify the performance of the generator. The maximum temperature rise of the biological load was also calculated based on Joule heating energy conservation and experimental validation. Our results indicate that the developed device has good capabilities to achieve well-controlled electro-manipulation in vitro.
The low-frequency polarisation properties of radio sources are poorly studied, particularly in statistical samples. However, the new generation of low-frequency telescopes, such as the Murchison Widefield Array (the precursor for the low-frequency component of the Square Kilometre Array) offers an opportunity to probe the physics of radio sources at very low radio frequencies. In this paper, we present a catalogue of linearly polarised sources detected at 216 MHz, using data from the Galactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey. Our catalogue covers the Declination range –17° to –37° and 24 h in Right Ascension, at a resolution of around 3 arcminutes. We detect 81 sources (including both a known pulsar and a new pulsar candidate) with linearly polarised flux densities in excess of 18 mJy across a survey area of approximately 6 400 deg2, corresponding to a surface density of 1 source per 79 deg2. The level of Faraday rotation measured for our sources is broadly consistent with those recovered at higher frequencies, with typically more than an order of magnitude improvement in the uncertainty compared to higher-frequency measurements. However, our catalogue is likely incomplete at low Faraday rotation measures, due to our practice of excluding sources in the region where instrumental leakage appears. The majority of sources exhibit significant depolarisation compared to higher frequencies; however, a small sub-sample repolarise at 216 MHz. We also discuss the polarisation properties of four nearby, large-angular-scale radio galaxies, with a particular focus on the giant radio galaxy ESO 422–G028, in order to explain the striking differences in polarised morphology between 216 MHz and 1.4 GHz.
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.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), located in Western Australia, is one of the low-frequency precursors of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. In addition to pursuing its own ambitious science programme, it is also a testbed for wide range of future SKA activities ranging from hardware, software to data analysis. The key science programmes for the MWA and SKA require very high dynamic ranges, which challenges calibration and imaging systems. Correct calibration of the instrument and accurate measurements of source flux densities and polarisations require precise characterisation of the telescope’s primary beam. Recent results from the MWA GaLactic Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array (GLEAM) survey show that the previously implemented Average Embedded Element (AEE) model still leaves residual polarisations errors of up to 10–20% in Stokes Q. We present a new simulation-based Full Embedded Element (FEE) model which is the most rigorous realisation yet of the MWA’s primary beam model. It enables efficient calculation of the MWA beam response in arbitrary directions without necessity of spatial interpolation. In the new model, every dipole in the MWA tile (4 × 4 bow-tie dipoles) is simulated separately, taking into account all mutual coupling, ground screen, and soil effects, and therefore accounts for the different properties of the individual dipoles within a tile. We have applied the FEE beam model to GLEAM observations at 200–231 MHz and used false Stokes parameter leakage as a metric to compare the models. We have determined that the FEE model reduced the magnitude and declination-dependent behaviour of false polarisation in Stokes Q and V while retaining low levels of false polarisation in Stokes U.
The current generation of experiments aiming to detect the neutral hydrogen signal from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) is likely to be limited by systematic effects associated with removing foreground sources from target fields. In this paper, we develop a model for the compact foreground sources in one of the target fields of the MWA’s EoR key science experiment: the ‘EoR1’ field. The model is based on both the MWA’s GLEAM survey and GMRT 150 MHz data from the TGSS survey, the latter providing higher angular resolution and better astrometric accuracy for compact sources than is available from the MWA alone. The model contains 5 049 sources, some of which have complicated morphology in MWA data, Fornax A being the most complex. The higher resolution data show that 13% of sources that appear point-like to the MWA have complicated morphology such as double and quad structure, with a typical separation of 33 arcsec. We derive an analytic expression for the error introduced into the EoR two-dimensional power spectrum due to peeling close double sources as single point sources and show that for the measured source properties, the error in the power spectrum is confined to high k⊥ modes that do not affect the overall result for the large-scale cosmological signal of interest. The brightest 10 mis-modelled sources in the field contribute 90% of the power bias in the data, suggesting that it is most critical to improve the models of the brightest sources. With this hybrid model, we reprocess data from the EoR1 field and show a maximum of 8% improved calibration accuracy and a factor of two reduction in residual power in k-space from peeling these sources. Implications for future EoR experiments including the SKA are discussed in relation to the improvements obtained.
We present low-frequency spectral energy distributions of 60 known radio pulsars observed with the Murchison Widefield Array telescope. We searched the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey images for 200-MHz continuum radio emission at the position of all pulsars in the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) pulsar catalogue. For the 60 confirmed detections, we have measured flux densities in 20 × 8 MHz bands between 72 and 231 MHz. We compare our results to existing measurements and show that the Murchison Widefield Array flux densities are in good agreement.
The S-band Polarisation All-Sky Survey has observed the entire southern sky using the 64-m Parkes radio telescope at 2.3 GHz with an effective bandwidth of 184 MHz. The surveyed sky area covers all declinations δ ⩽ 0°. To analyse compact sources, the survey data have been re-processed to produce a set of 107 Stokes I maps with 10.75 arcmin resolution and the large scale emission contribution filtered out. In this paper, we use these Stokes I images to create a total intensity southern-sky extragalactic source catalogue at 2.3 GHz. The source catalogue contains 23 389 sources and covers a sky area of 16 600 deg2, excluding the Galactic plane for latitudes |b| < 10°. Approximately, 8% of catalogued sources are resolved. S-band Polarisation All-Sky Survey source positions are typically accurate to within 35 arcsec. At a flux density of 225 mJy, the S-band Polarisation All-Sky Survey source catalogue is more than 95% complete, and ~ 94% of S-band Polarisation All-Sky Survey sources brighter than 500 mJy beam−1 have a counterpart at lower frequencies.
We estimate spatial gradients in the ionosphere using the Global Positioning System and GLONASS (Russian global navigation system) observations, utilising data from multiple Global Positioning System stations in the vicinity of Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. In previous work, the ionosphere was characterised using a single-station to model the ionosphere as a single layer of fixed height and this was compared with ionospheric data derived from radio astronomy observations obtained from the Murchison Widefield Array. Having made improvements to our data quality (via cycle slip detection and repair) and incorporating data from the GLONASS system, we now present a multi-station approach. These two developments significantly improve our modelling of the ionosphere. We also explore the effects of a variable-height model. We conclude that modelling the small-scale features in the ionosphere that have been observed with the MWA will require a much denser network of Global Navigation Satellite System stations than is currently available at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.
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 Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) is a proposed radio continuum survey
of the Southern Hemisphere up to declination + 30°, with the Australian
Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). EMU will use an automated source
identification and measurement approach that is demonstrably optimal, to
maximise the reliability and robustness of the resulting radio source
catalogues. As a step toward this goal we conducted a “Data
Challenge” to test a variety of source finders on simulated images. The
aim is to quantify the accuracy and limitations of existing automated source
finding and measurement approaches. The Challenge initiators also tested the
current ASKAPsoft source-finding tool to establish how it could benefit from
incorporating successful features of the other tools. As expected, most finders
show completeness around 100% at ≈ 10σ dropping to about 10% by
≈ 5σ. Reliability is typically close to 100% at ≈
10σ, with performance to lower sensitivities varying between finders. All
finders show the expected trade-off, where a high completeness at low
signal-to-noise gives a corresponding reduction in reliability, and vice versa.
We conclude with a series of recommendations for improving the performance of
the ASKAPsoft source-finding tool.
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.