Extended capabilities for the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA)

A Community workshop, co-sponsored by Astronomy Australia Limited, Curtin University and CAASTRO
15th - 16th October 2014, CAASTRO Headquarters, 44-70 Rosehill Street Redfern


MWA Workshop Program

MWA Briefing Document

List of workshop participants.

Registration for the meeting is free, supported by the sponsors, and includes morning and afternoon teas, lunch and a workshop dinner on the evening of Wednesday 15th October.  The dinner will be held at Rubyos, King Street Newtown (walking map).  Please register for catering purposes.  The registration deadline is Wednesday October 1st.  The registration form includes the ability to propose to make a presentation at the workshop.

Photo credit: Emil Lenc

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a new low frequency interferometric radio telescope located at CSIRO’s superb radio quiet Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Murchison region of Western Australia.  The MWA is the only low frequency Precursor for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and is the first of the three SKA Precursors to be fully operational for science.  The MWA has been operational since July 2013.

A consortium of 13 partner institutions from four countries (Australia, USA, India, and New Zealand) has financed the development, construction, commissioning, and operations of the facility.  The MWA consortium members, and a range of other groups, are now exploiting the instrument for early science, under the MWA Open Skies time allocation policy.  Key science for the MWA ranges from the search for redshifted HI signals from the Epoch of Reionisation, to wide-field searches for transient and variable objects (including pulsars and Fast Radio Bursts), to wide-field Galactic and extra-galactic surveys, to solar and heliospheric science.

As a next-generation radio telescope, the MWA is training a new generation of radio astronomers, conversant in the Big Data aspects of research that will be fundamental in the era of the SKA.  High volume data streams from the MWA terminate at the new $80m Pawsey supercomputing centre in Perth, where MWA users have access to the data in the form of a 9 PB archive.  Moreover, the MWA is playing a central role in the international SKA pre-construction program, hosting low frequency verification systems for the SKA. 

Overall, the MWA has been one of the significant recent successes of Australian astronomy, flagged in the last Decadal Plan and delivered within that decade. 

The purpose of this workshop is to discuss the possibilities for future expansion or upgrade of the MWA in order to leverage the built value of the instrument and the investment to date to support enhanced scientific productivity.  A number of upgrade and extension options are available at relatively modest cost.  These options will be outlined at the workshop, along with scientific motivations for the extensions/upgrades.  The workshop will provide an opportunity for interested researchers to present their own ideas regarding MWA upgrades/extensions and for the community to discuss possible priorities.

The outcomes of the workshop will be used to inform a detailed project plan that sets out an extension/upgrade path that could be realised within a two year timeframe.  A second similar workshop will be held in December 2014 in Tempe, Arizona, to collect input from the non-Australian MWA partners (although the October workshop is open to anyone prepared to travel).

Live streaming of the conference will be available via ABOBE CONNECT.  However it has a limit of 10 remote connections, so if you would like to set up a remote connection, please contact Kylie Williams to receive links and instructions as soon as possible. Because of the limitation on the number of connections, we strongly encourage you to try to get together and establish only one connection per institution

Further background information regarding the MWA can be found in the MWA system description paper (Tingay et al. 2013, PASA, 30,7) and the MWA science program description paper (Bowman et al. 2013, PASA, 30, 31), as well as on the MWA web pages: http://www.mwatelescope.org

Accommodation in Redfern: Some local hotels include:


Any questions regarding the workshop can be directed to the MWA Director, Prof. Steven Tingay (s.tingay@curtin.edu.au)