NAOJ visiting SKA organisation Headquarters

Hideyuki Kobayashi and Takuya Akahori have stayed at the SKA Global Headquarters during 26-29 June, 2018. They exchanged opinions on the course of the Japanese participation in the SKA project with executives including Phil Diamond (Director General of the SKAO). Based on the contribution items that SKA-JP has considered, Hideyuki Kobayashi and Takuya Akahori gathered further information and discussed how to progress Japanese contrition in the future. As a result, they found that Japan could make a major contribution for high-frequency receivers, partial contribution for the VLBI backend, and human contribution for the inspection and testing of instruments.

Journey towards the establishment of the NAOJ SKA Promotion office

Mizusawa VLBI observatory, one of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) projects, has proposed a sub-project of the SKA Promotion office. However, the proposal was disapproved unfortunately. The executive of NAOJ concluded that the SKA Japan consortium (SKA-JP) needed to further discuss how Japan participates in the SKA project, before the establishment of the SKA Promotion office. It should be noted that this decision does not deny Japanese participation in the SKA project.

According to the decision from the NAOJ executive, Mizusawa VLBI Observatory has newly established “Section of Future Project, Mizusawa VLBI observatory” that mainly aims to discuss Japanese participation in the SKA project. The persons in charge are Hideyuki Kobayashi as the section manager, Takuya Akahori for scientific issues, and Yusuke Kono for technical issues. Besides, Mareki Honma (Director of Mizusawa Observatory), Tomoya Hirota, Tomoaki Oyama, and Osamu Kameya concurrently joined the section. The section carefully reviews the establishment of the SKA Promotion office in NAOJ, promotes the communication between the members of SKA-JP and VLBI community, and keeps negotiating with Director General of NAOJ.

Visiting the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory

On 14th May, 2018, Hideyuki Kobayashi and Takuya Akahori visited the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO). In the morning, they had a meeting with Xiangping Wu (Chief Scientist of SKA China, NAOC / SHAO) and Tao An (Group leader of SHAO), and agreed to restarting the East Asia SKA Science Conference. They also discussed the SKA Regional Center in China. In the afternoon, Biao Du (Chief Engineer JLART, Chief expert CETC 54) gave the explanations about the SKA-mid prototype antenna.

VERA granted SKA pathfinder status

The VERA (VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry) telescope installed at Mizusawa VLBI Observatory has granted the SKA Pathfinder status on 3 July, 2018, based on the achievements of high frequency observations, VLBI technology, and the long-term operation of the telescope. Please check the press release below for details. (http://veraserver.mtk.nao.ac.jp/outline/vera7-e.html)

Master Plan 2020 of the Science Council of Japan

The executive of SKA-JP has prepared a Letter Of Intent (LOI) for Master Plan 2020 of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), and the Director General of NAOJ has submitted the LOI to the SCJ. In this time, the subject of the LOI was decided to be “SKA Phase 1”.

This is a message emphasizing that the construction of SKA Phase 1 will start soon and Japanese contribution to the SKA project is becoming clear.

International Workshop ”The Power of Faraday Tomography: towards 3D Mapping of Cosmic Magnetic Field”

SKA-JP Cosmic Magnetic Field Group held an international workshop ”The Power of Faraday Tomography: towards 3D Mapping of Cosmic Magnetic Field” at Miyazaki, from 28th May to 2nd June, 2018. This is the first international meeting focusing on the Faraday Tomography, which is a new method to derive three-dimensional structures of cosmic magnetic fields. In order to perform the Faraday Tomography analysis, radio observational data with a wide frequency band and high sensitivity are required. Therefore, the Faraday Tomography is expected to be the mainstream for studying comic magnetic fields in the SKA era. 61 participants including 9 invited speakers joined the workshop, and gave various talks regarding the Faraday Tomography, such as methods of the analysis, theoretical researches using the Faraday Tomography, and applications of the Faraday Tomography to actual observational data. Furthermore, during the workshop, a user meeting of Galaxy Polarization Observation Team (POSSUM) of Australia SKA Pathfinder was held. Additionally, tutorial sessions for the beginners of polarization data reductions and Faraday Tomography were held. The conference proceeding will be published as a special issue of Galaxies.

MWA EoR Busy Week in Tokyo

At the Tokyo satellite office of Kumamoto University, SKA-JP Epoch of Reionization (EoR) Group organized a meeting for the EoR group of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) project (so-called MWA EoR busy week) from 16th to 19th April, 2018. Approximately 20 researchers from Japan, Australia, and the USA participated in the meeting. Before discussions on Quality Assurance of MWA data, which is a main topic of the meeting, all the participants reported the current status of their own studies. Furthermore, international collaborations using MWA data were discussed in detail.

Report provided by Kenji Hasegawa