Elephants in the room

Leading researchers from all over the globe are currently in the vicinity for the first series of workshops on the third-generation calibration (3GC3) in radio astronomy in Africa, hosted Rhodes University.

The workshop has attracted leading researchers from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, United States and Australia and has brought them together with PhD students and young researchers from South Africa and other countries on the continent. This meeting of great minds is currently taking place at the Halyards Hotel, Port Alfred, from 10-22 February.

"The aim of the workshop is firstly to educate the younger scientists and secondly to provide a forum for leading experts to exchange ideas and techniques," said the Rhodes University Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Research Chair Professor Oleg Smirnov. The theme of the 3GC3 workshop is 'The Elephants In The Room' and "by elephants, we refer to possible fundamental or practical limits on the scientific performance of upcoming radio telescopes," Smirnov said.

"With orders -of-magnitude increases in the sensitivities and fields-of-view of our instruments, some of these elephants may now be taking shape. "Can we afford to overlook them as we design and build SKAT' he asked. Rhodes recently established the Centre for Radio Astronomy Techniques and Technologies (RATT) based around the SKA Research Chair in RATT. The university has placed itself in a position to become a leading South African research centre in this field.

Smirnov said that "hosting the 3GC3 workshop is a natural extension of this initiative". "3GC" is catch phrase for calibration and imaging techniques and algorithms needed to deal with the problems and increased capabilities of the new crop of SKA pathfinder telescopes, and the SKA itself.

The themes of the previous two workshops were DDE calibration techniques (Nancay, France, 2009, http:// www.astron.nl/megwiki/ MegTreeWorkshop2009) and beamshape-related problems (Albufeira, Portugal, 2011, http://www.astron.nll3GCIIA The third workshop in South Africa is sponsored by Rhodes University, SKA SA and RadioNet.

Caption: EASY AS PI... Prof Oleg Smirnov joined Rhodes in April 2012 to take up the new SKA Research Chair in Radio Astronomy Techniques and Technologies. He is one of the leading international scientists currently attending a Rhodes-hosted workshop held partly to discuss possible problems and limits of radio telescopes.

Photo: Sophie Smith

Source: Grocotts Mail


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