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MeerKAT and MeerLICHT: A New Look at Radio Transients

Event details of Patrick Woudt (University of Cape Town)
Date 3 March 2021
Time 11:00 -12:00
Patrick Woudt

In July 2018, MeerKAT started its science mission. One of the 5-year legacy  programmes on MeerKAT is the ThunderKAT large survey project (LSP) which focuses on the study of radio transients (X-ray binaries, Cataclysmic Variables, Type Ia Supernovae and Short Gamma-Ray Bursts), as well as the commensal search in all MeerKAT LSP data for new and unusual radio transients in the image domain. This commensal approach to transient science is turning MeerKAT into an effective radio transient discovery facility. To identify and characterise these radio transients at optical wavelengths, the ThunderKAT collaboration constructed a dedicated wide-field optical telescope - MeerLICHT - located at the Sutherland station of the SAAO. The MeerLICHT telescope is permanently tethered to the observing schedule of MeerKAT, providing a simultaneous optical view of the transient radio sky.

In this talk I will present the main science drivers for the study of radio transients with MeerKAT. Given the vast size and complexity of the MeerKAT data, and the globally distributed network of researchers, new ways of bringing researchers to the data have been developed through the efforts of the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA). I will give some examples of our experience over the last two years in the rapid analysis and astrophysical interpretation of large MeerKAT data sets on the IDIA Ilifu research cloud, and present some of the new insights in the study of radio transients with MeerKAT.