Jive/EVN/VLBI Report

Science frontiers for SKA-VLBI

The SKA Project continues assessing the different elements’ designs in the Critical Design Reviews. During this period the Central Signal Processor, a very important element for the SKA-VLBI capability, was reviewed with very good outcomes, as their flexible architecture provides many more VLBI beams than what is described in the SKA1 Baseline Design and commensality between the different observing modes can be fully achieved, with the caveat of a bandwidth sacrifice for Band 5.

JUMPING JIVE project (“Joining up Users for Maximizing the Profile, the Innovation and Necessary Globalization of JIVE”) is about to pass a very important milestone as the different work packages have provided the first deliverable. In particular for work package 10 “VLBI with the SKA” the first deliverable provides a complete and robust solution for the VLBI observing mode within the SKA Observatory, including interfaces with the different SKA1 elements and a complete set of technical requirements. Next deliverable will be focused in the VLBI use cases for both SKA1-MID and SKA1-LOW telescopes.

Since last reported a first step to integrate the phased-up SKA into the VLBI networks was achieved: VLBI fringes have been already demonstrated with the SKA1-MID precursor MeerKAT as part of its commissioning activities. Figure 1 shows the fringes between one MeerKAT antenna and the EVN stations Effelsberg in Germany and Hartebeesthoek in South Africa during an EVN Network Monitoring Experiment performed in February 2018. A considerable effort needs to be performed by JIVE staff to filter, resample and reformat the MeerKAT data into VLBI Data Interchange Format (VDIF) standard, compatible with the EVN software correlator SFXC. Fringes have been also demonstrated with the MeerKAT beamformed output and results are still being investigated, revealing this method as a very powerful tool to verify and commission the beamforming capability.

Following there is an overview of the recent and future SKA-VLBI related workshops and symposia. Do not miss the SKA-VLBI Key Science Projects and Operations Workshop in October 14-17, 2019.

Figure 1. Fringes between MeerKAT (Me) single dish digitiser output from antenna m011v for N18L1 scan 11 (source J0530+1331) and the EVN stations Effelsberg (Ef) and Hartebeesthoek (Hh).

Recent and future meetings and workshops with relevance for the SKA-VLBI science

The 14th European VLBI Network Symposium and Users Meeting, Granada, October 8-11, 2018.

This year’s edition of the EVN Symposium was hosted by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía-CSIC in Granada with more than 170 participants from 25 countries (Figure 2). A large variety of SKA-VLBI science was highlighted in a number of contributions, e.g. high sensitivity monitoring of SNe ejecta, FRB and GW counterpart precise localisation, pulsar driven astrophysics, gravitational lensing with access to the smaller scales, study of high mass star forming regions with high sensitivity, very precise astrometry, etc. The SKA-VLBI capability was presented by Cristina Garcia Miro (SKAO) and a discussion on the potential SKA Key Science Projects that will benefit from the SKA-VLBI capability was presented by Zsolt Paragi (JIVE).

Figure 2. 14th EVN Symposium & Users Meeting group picture.

Italy – South Africa Radio Astronomy Workshop “Enhancing the collaboration in radio astronomy between Italy and South Africa”, Pretoria, October 24-25, 2018

The workshop was hosted by the Italian Embassy in Pretoria and the South African Department of Science and Technology. The aim of the workshop was to further strengthen and expand the existing successful radio astronomy collaborations between Italy and South Africa. VLBI with MeerKAT and soon with the SKA were amongst the main topics discussed in the workshop, with related presentations by Roger Deane (University of Pretoria) and Cristina Garcia Miro (SKAO).

The 7th International VLBI Technology Workshop, Thailand, November 12-15, 2018.

The scope of the technology workshops aims to encompass all areas of hardware and software development relevant to VLBI science. This edition hosted by NARIT, the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, has focused on traditional VLBI topics, such as receivers, backends, recording equipment, e-transport and correlators.

NARIT is in the process of establishing the Thai Radio AstronomyObservatory (TNRO) in Chiang Mai, which will host a new 40-m RadioTelescope and a 13.2-m VGOS station on the same site, expected to seefirst light in early 2020.

SKA General Science meeting and Key Science Workshop “New science enabled by new techniques in the SKA era”, SKA Headquarters, Jodrell Bank, UK, April 8-12, 2019.

VLBI is an observing mode of the SKA Observatory. An effort is being led from the SKA VLBI science working group to have a strong presence in the SKA Science meeting and in the different SKA Key Science discussions. Do not miss this opportunity to include your favorite VLBI science in the Key Science Projects!

SKA-VLBI Key Science Projects and Operations Workshop, SKA Headquarters, Jodrell Bank, UK, October 14-17, 2019.

A significant fraction of the observing time with the two phase-I SKA telescopes (SKA1-LOW and SKA1-MID) will be spent on Key Science Projects (KSPs) led by member country scientists. The various SKA Science Working Groups, including the VLBI Focus Group are in the process of defining KSPs that are aligned with the High Priority Science Objectives of the SKA. This workshop will provide an adequate forum for the VLBI community to discuss the possibilities to engage in the different SKA KSPs contributing with the extreme angular resolutions that SKA-VLBI will provide. Please reserve these dates in your calendar for next year, registration for the workshop will be opened soon.

Report provided by Cristina Garcia Miro