Murchison Widefield Array - Science


The MWA is an inherently versatile instrument with a wide range of potential science goals. Scientific priorities during the early science phase will be determined partly by the evolving instrumental capabilities, and partly by the potential of such studies to accelerate commissioning and the initiation of the key science projects.

In astronomy, the highest priority key science project is detection of red-shifted 21 cm signals from HI during the EoR, using power spectral techniques, direct detection of quasar ionised “bubbles”, or both. The MWA will be one of the most sensitive EoR instruments yet constructed: its observations should characterize the properties of the sources that are responsible for ionizing the intergalactic medium, chart the evolution of the global neutral fraction, and probe the nature of quasar emissions by constraining the properties of their ionized proximity zones.

In solar, heliospheric and ionospheric (SHI) research, the highest priority is characterisation of the heliospheric magneto-ionic medium via interplanetary scintillation and Faraday rotation propagation effects using background astronomical radio sources.

Secondary key science projects include radio transient detection and monitoring, solar burst imaging, studies of ionospheric phenomena, and a variety of astronomical studies using all-sky survey data. Examples of the latter include Faraday tomography of the interstellar medium, the galactic distribution of cosmic rays, the hidden population of galactic supernova remnants, pulsar emission mechanisms and population statistics, and the low-frequency cosmic web. Most of these secondary projects can be conducted using data collected during or in support of the two highest-priority key science projects, in part because accurate calibration of the MWA requires comprehensive characterisation of the sky across wide instantaneous fields-of-view, as well as accurate characterisation of the behaviour of the ionosphere.

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