Science with MeerKAT

Please refer to MeerKAT Telescope and Data Access Guidelines for detailed guidelines on how to obtain data from the MeerKAT telescope.

There are three kinds of MeerKAT observing proposals: Large Survey Projects (LSP), Open Time, and Director's Discretionary Time (DDT). Commissioning and other types of observations are often also useful for science purposes - more details can be found in the MeerKAT Telescope and Data Access Guidelines.

All MeerKAT science projects are listed on the projects dashboard.

All MeerKAT observations that in principle are useful for science can be searched by coordinates on the MeerKAT archive. Here we outline the main projects and datasets that may be of interest.

The SARAO data repository

Data releases (generally fully processed image products and catalogues) from various projects can be found in the SARAO repository.

This includes public releases of SARAO legacy surveys, calibrator images from the SARAO monitoring programme, and periodic data releases from the large survey projects.

Publications

 

All authors are requested to include the following acknowledgement statement in any publication containing MeerKAT data:

The MeerKAT telescope is operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is a facility of the National Research Foundation, an agency of the Department of Science and Innovation.

ADS library of MeerKAT publications

Please email publications@ska.ac.za with details of new publications using MeerKAT data.

Large Survey Projects

A call for large MeerKAT observing proposals by SARAO's predecessor SKA South Africa in 2009 resulted in 10 Large Survey Projects (LSPs, defined to require more than 1000 hours of telescope time over 5 years) being approved in 2010. In 2016, with MeerKAT in an advanced state of construction, SKA South Africa requested revised project plans from eight LSPs:

  • LADUMA: Looking at the Distant Universe with the MeerKAT Array

  • MALS: The MeerKAT Absorption Line Survey

  • MeerKAT Fornax Survey

  • MeerTime: The MeerKAT Key Science Project on Pulsar Timing

  • MHONGOOSE: MeerKAT HI Observations of Nearby Galactic Objects: Observing Southern Emitters

  • MIGHTEE: The MeerKAT International GHz Tuned Extragalactic Exploration Survey

  • ThunderKAT: The Hunt for Dynamic and Explosive Radio Transients with MeerKAT

  • TRAPUM: Transients and Pulsars with MeerKAT

Following review, the Report of the MeerKAT Large Project Review Panel resulted in this rank-ordered list of approved LSPs and components:

LSP

Component

LSP

Component

MeerTime

Binary

MHONGOOSE

-

MeerTime

MSP

LADUMA

E-CDFS (L-band and UHF)

Fornax

-

TRAPUM

Fermi sources

MeerTime

1000 PTA

ThunderKAT

CVs

MIGHTEE

L-band (E-CDFS, XMM-LSS, ELAIS-S1, COSMOS)

ThunderKAT

GRBs (short)

MeerTime

Globular clusters

MALS

UHF

MALS

L-band

TRAPUM

Nearby galaxies

TRAPUM

Globular clusters

TRAPUM

SNR, PWN, TeV

ThunderKAT

SNe Ia

MIGHTEE

S-band (E-CDFS, COSMOS)

ThunderKAT

XRBs

LSPs will be allocated up to 2/3 of the MeerKAT science time to be scheduled over a period of 5 years for projects selected competitively.

No more LSP calls are envisioned at this stage.

Open Time

These projects will use approximately 28% of the observing time awarded through competitive proposals. There will be periodic calls for Open Time proposals. The following projects were accepted for the previous open calls. Please click on the links for more details.

Open Time 2019 accepted projects

Open Time 2021 accepted projects

Open Time 2022 accepted projects

DDT

The DDT mechanism is available to allocate approximately 5% of competitively awarded observing time. Details can be found at MeerKAT Telescope and Data Access Guidelines.

Accepted DDT proposals

Other projects

SARAO Legacy Surveys

All of the projects below have used the L-band receiver and 4k mode of the correlator.

The Galactic Center region

The region surrounding the Galactic Center has been surveyed with a variety of pointings. Long tracks have been used to cover approximately |b| < 1°, |l| < 2°; a vertical strip at approximately |b| < 20°, |l| < 1.5° has been covered with a mosaic pointing scheme that achieves 1 hour integration time per pointing spread over a range of hour angles to obtain good uv coverage. The overview paper for the long-tracks portion of the survey has been accepted for publication, and the corresponding data products are available from the SARAO repository.

The MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey

Approximately 30 radio-selected and 70 X-ray-selected galaxy clusters have been observed with long tracks. The survey overview and highlights paper has been published, along with the first data release on the SARAO repository.

The data release includes unprocessed visibilities (please read the paper for caveats), basic imaging products, enhanced imaging products and catalogues.

Magellanic Clouds

Both the SMC and LMC have been surveyed with a mosaic pointing scheme that achieves 1 hour integration time per pointing spread over a range of hour angles to obtain good uv coverage. Science exploitation has begun, and those potentially interested to participate should contact SARAO.

Galactic Plane

A thin strip of the Southern Galactic Plane (4th quadrant, and also portions of the 3rd and 1st: 248° < l < 61°, |b| < 1.5°) has been surveyed with a mosaic pointing scheme that achieves 1 hour integration time per pointing spread over a range of hour angles to obtain good uv coverage. Science exploitation is underway, and those potentially interested to participate should contact Sharmila Goedhart.

Science Verification

SARAO has surveyed a 30 deg2 region in the GAMA23 field in order to demonstrate MeerKAT's capabilities for relatively shallow and large area neutral hydrogen surveys, while demonstrating the science utility of the SDP near real-time spectral imager. This uses the L-band receiver, 32k mode of the correlator, and 1 hour per pointing.

Shallow L-band Galactic Plane survey

An MPIfR-led team is using 800 hours to cover the region |b| < 5.2°, -100° < l < -10°, with an integration time of 10 min per pointing using the L-band receiver. This survey is simultaneously searching for pulsars/transients, and doing Galactic imaging studies using the 4k mode of the correlator. More information can be obtained from PI Michael Kramer.