MIGHTEE Meeting, Oxford 18-21 September 2017

A MeerKAT dish. By Morganoshell – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47588577

I wasn’t very familiar with the MeerKAT International Giga-Hertz Tiered Extragalactic Exploration (MIGHTEE) survey or even the Karoo Array Telescope (MeerKAT)* which is a precursor to the enormously ambitious Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Gotta Love Physics Acronyms (GLPA). It reminded me what an exciting time to be doing astronomy it is with some huge data sets on the way at unprecedented scales. It was a chance to think about how to tie together the quite disparate data from various wavelength regimes which fed in quite well to the LSST meeting the following week.

A lot of the fields overlap with the LSST deep drilling fields as well as the Herschel extragalactic fields. The four fields are XMM-LSS, COSMOS, ELAIS-S1 and CDFS (names of areas on the sky that have been previously imaged)**. The challenge will be to move beyond the catalogue based cross matching done so far and towards dealing directly with pixel data.

I did my masters project on the SKA back in 2006 and it is amazing to see it starting to take shape with actual radio dishes on the ground in South Africa.

Being in Oxford was also a useful opportunity to meet with other members of the Herschel Extragalactic Legacy Project (HELP) to talk about the last stages of the project and how we are going to deliver all the final data. Something we can talk about further at the HELP meeting in Sussex in October.

* I can’t find where the Meer in MeerKAT comes from. I think there are actual meerkat populations near the telescope but this might be a prime example of acronym nesting.

** XMM-LSS: X-ray Multi Mirror telescope Large Scale Structure survey
COSMOS: Cosmological Evolution Survey***
ELAIS-S1: South 1
CDFS: Chandra Deep Field South

*** I know.

Spitzer Extragalactic Representative Volume Survey (SERVS) meeting, Tufts university, Boston, June 2017.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Boston for a meeting of the SERVS team and I thought I should get round to blogging about it. The small conference was organised by Anna Sajina at Tufts and was concerned with determining priorities for presenting and analysing data from the Spitzer telescope. I was there because a large part of my work is concerned with building a multiwavelength catalogue for the Herschel Extragalactic Legacy Project (HELP) and we are ingesting a number of Spitzer surveys including SERVS.

The Spitzer Space Telescope.

SERVS data is a key part of the HELP pipeline because we typically use the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) fluxes to select objects to define our samples. It was also a chance to hear about all the research being done with these Spitzer fluxes which cover the mid infrared part fo the spectrum.

The National Astronomy Meeting 2017

I have spent the last two days in Hull for the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM). I have seen a number of excellent talks already. In particular, the session on low surface brightness galaxies yesterday was fascinating and had a number of gems in it. David Valls-Gabaud gave a great overview of the field. It was particularly interesting to me because I realised the problem I work on (deblending) will be increasingly important as we move into the era of deeper and deeper surveys. As our telescopes become more sensitive we can observe fainter and fainter objects and the sky becomes more full of things. This means they are more likely to overlap and the problem of determining where light comes from becomes harder and harder. It was good to remind myself of the final aim of my work.

The day finished with a fantastic public talk by Chris Lintott. It was pitched at a perfect level for the public, but I also think a lot of us early stage career scientists and PhD students found it refreshing. Sometimes, particularly in fields you don’t directly work on, you learn a lot more by starting at the beginning. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the questions by 5-10 year olds were very probing and highlighted the vast amount there is still to learn. They have more courage to admit that they don’t know something!

Here are the slides from the talk I gave: