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  1. ABSTRACT

    Spider pulsars continue to provide promising candidates for neutron star mass measurements. Here we present the discovery of PSR J1910−5320, a new millisecond pulsar discovered in a MeerKAT observation of an unidentified Fermi-LAT gamma-ray source. This pulsar is coincident with a recently identified candidate redback binary, independently discovered through its periodic optical flux and radial velocity. New multicolour optical light curves obtained with ULTRACAM/New Technology Telescope in combination with MeerKAT timing and updated SOAR/Goodman spectroscopic radial velocity measurements allow a mass constraint for PSR J1910−5320. icarus optical light curve modelling, with streamlined radial velocity fitting, constrains the orbital inclination and companion velocity, unlocking the binary mass function given the precise radio ephemeris. Our modelling aims to unite the photometric and spectroscopic measurements available by fitting each simultaneously to the same underlying physical model, ensuring self-consistency. This targets centre-of-light radial velocity corrections necessitated by the irradiation endemic to spider systems. Depending on the gravity darkening prescription used, we find a moderate neutron star mass of either 1.6 ± 0.2 or 1.4 ± 0.2 M⊙. The companion mass of either 0.45 ± 0.04 or $0.43^{+0.04}_{-0.03}$M⊙ also further confirms PSR J1910−5320 as an irradiated redback spider pulsar.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    We present new radio continuum images and a source catalogue from the MeerKAT survey in the direction of the Small Magellanic Cloud. The observations, at a central frequency of 1.3 GHz across a bandwidth of 0.8 GHz, encompass a field of view ∼7° × 7° and result in images with resolution of 8 arcsec. The median broad-band Stokes I image Root Mean Squared noise value is ∼11 μJy beam−1. The catalogue produced from these images contains 108 330 point sources and 517 compact extended sources. We also describe a UHF (544–1088 MHz) single pointing observation. We report the detection of a new confirmed Supernova Remnant (SNR; MCSNR J0100–7211) with an X-ray magnetar at its centre and 10 new SNR candidates. This is in addition to the detection of 21 previously confirmed SNRs and two previously noted SNR candidates. Our new SNR candidates have typical surface brightness an order of magnitude below those previously known, and on the whole they are larger. The high sensitivity of the MeerKAT survey also enabled us to detect the bright end of the SMC Planetary Nebulae (PNe) sample – point-like radio emission is associated with 38 of 102 optically known PNe, of which 19 are new detections. Lastly, we present the detection of three foreground radio stars amidst 11 circularly polarized sources, and a few examples of morphologically interesting background radio galaxies from which the radio ring galaxy ESO 029–G034 may represent a new type of radio object.

     
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  3. ABSTRACT

    We present a sample of well-localized fast radio bursts (FRBs) discovered by the MeerTRAP project at the MeerKAT telescope in South Africa. We discovered the three FRBs in single coherent tied-array beams and localized them to an area of ∼1 arcmin2. We investigate their burst properties, scattering, repetition rates, and localizations in a multiwavelength context. FRB 20201211A shows hints of scatter broadening but is otherwise consistent with instrumental dispersion smearing. For FRB 20210202D, we discovered a faint post-cursor burst separated by ∼200 ms, suggesting a distinct burst component or a repeat pulse. We attempt to associate the FRBs with host galaxy candidates. For FRB 20210408H, we tentatively (0.35–0.53 probability) identify a compatible host at a redshift ∼0.5. Additionally, we analyse the MeerTRAP survey properties, such as the survey coverage, fluence completeness, and their implications for the FRB population. Based on the entire sample of 11 MeerTRAP FRBs discovered by the end of 2021, we estimate the FRB all-sky rates and their scaling with the fluence threshold. The inferred FRB all-sky rates at 1.28 GHz are $8.2_{-4.6}^{+8.0}$ and $2.1_{-1.1}^{+1.8} \times 10^3 \: \text{sky}^{-1} \: \text{d}^{-1}$ above 0.66 and 3.44 Jy ms for the coherent and incoherent surveys, respectively. The scaling between the MeerTRAP rates is flatter than at higher fluences at the 1.4σ level. There seems to be a deficit of low-fluence FRBs, suggesting a break or turn-over in the rate versus fluence relation below 2 Jy ms. We speculate on cosmological or progenitor-intrinsic origins. The cumulative source counts within our surveys appear consistent with the Euclidean scaling.

     
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  4. ABSTRACT

    We present the first 2.5 yr of data from the MeerKAT Pulsar Timing Array (MPTA), part of MeerTime, a MeerKAT Large Survey Project. The MPTA aims to precisely measure pulse arrival times from an ensemble of 88 pulsars visible from the Southern hemisphere, with the goal of contributing to the search, detection, and study of nanohertz-frequency gravitational waves as part of the International Pulsar Timing Array. This project makes use of the MeerKAT telescope and operates with a typical observing cadence of 2 weeks using the L-band receiver that records data from 856 to 1712 MHz. We provide a comprehensive description of the observing system, software, and pipelines used and developed for the MeerTime project. The data products made available as part of this data release are from the 78 pulsars that had at least 30 observations between the start of the MeerTime programme in February 2019 and October 2021. These include both sub-banded and band-averaged arrival times and the initial timing ephemerides, noise models, and the frequency-dependent standard templates (portraits) used to derive pulse arrival times. After accounting for detected noise processes in the data, the frequency-averaged residuals of 67 of the pulsars achieved a root-mean-square residual precision of $\lt 1 \, \mu \rm {s}$. We also present a novel recovery of the clock correction waveform solely from pulsar timing residuals and an exploration into preliminary findings of interest to the international pulsar timing community. The arrival times, standards, and full Stokes parameter-calibrated pulsar timing archives are publicly available.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT

    Galactic plane radio surveys play a key role in improving our understanding of a wide range of astrophysical phenomena. Performing such a survey using the latest interferometric telescopes produces large data rates necessitating a shift towards fully or quasi-real-time data analysis with data being stored for only the time required to process them. We present here the overview and set-up for the 3000-h Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR)–MeerKAT Galactic Plane Survey (MMGPS). The survey is unique by operating in a commensal mode, addressing key science objectives of the survey including the discovery of new pulsars and transients and studies of Galactic magnetism, the interstellar medium and star formation rates. We explain the strategy coupled with the necessary hardware and software infrastructure needed for data reduction in the imaging, spectral, and time domains. We have so far discovered 78 new pulsars including 17 confirmed binary systems of which two are potential double neutron star systems. We have also developed an imaging pipeline sensitive to the order of a few tens of micro-Jansky ($\mu{\rm Jy}$) with a spatial resolution of a few arcseconds. Further science operations with an in-house built S-band receiver operating between 1.7 and 3.5 GHz are about to commence. Early spectral line commissioning observations conducted at S-band, targeting transitions of the key molecular gas tracer CH at 3.3 GHz already illustrate the spectroscopic capabilities of this instrument. These results lay a strong foundation for future surveys with telescopes like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

     
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  6. ABSTRACT

    We present the polarization profiles of 22 pulsars in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae using observations from the MeerKAT radio telescope at UHF band (544–1088 MHz) and report precise values of dispersion measure (DM) and rotation measure (RM). We use these measurements to investigate the presence of turbulence in electron density and magnetic fields. The structure function of DM shows a break at ∼30 arcsec (∼0.6 pc at the distance of 47 Tucanae) that suggests the presence of turbulence in the gas in the cluster driven by the motion of wind-shedding stars. On the other hand, the structure function of RM does not show evidence of a break. This non-detection could be explained either by the limited number of pulsars or by the effects of the intervening gas in the Galaxy along the line of sight. Future pulsar discoveries in the cluster could help confirm the presence and localize the turbulence.

     
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  7. ABSTRACT

    The most massive globular cluster in our Galaxy, Omega Centauri, is an interesting target for pulsar searches, because of its multiple stellar populations and the intriguing possibility that it was once the nucleus of a galaxy that was absorbed into the Milky Way. The recent discoveries of pulsars in this globular cluster and their association with known X-ray sources was a hint that, given the large number of known X-ray sources, there is a much larger undiscovered pulsar population. We used the superior sensitivity of the MeerKAT radio telescope to search for pulsars in Omega Centauri. In this paper, we present some of the first results of this survey, including the discovery of 13 new pulsars; the total number of known pulsars in this cluster currently stands at 18. At least half of them are in binary systems and preliminary orbital constraints suggest that most of the binaries have light companions. We also discuss the ratio between isolated and binaries pulsars, and how they were formed in this cluster.

     
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  8. ABSTRACT

    We report on the discovery and localization of fast radio bursts (FRBs) from the MeerTRAP project, a commensal fast radio transient-detection programme at MeerKAT in South Africa. Our hybrid approach combines a coherent search with an average field-of-view (FoV) of 0.4 $\rm deg^{2}$ with an incoherent search utilizing a FoV of ∼1.27 $\rm deg^{2}$ (both at 1284 MHz). Here, we present results on the first three FRBs: FRB 20200413A (DM = 1990.05 pc cm−3), FRB 20200915A (DM = 740.65 pc cm−3), and FRB 20201123A (DM = 433.55 pc cm−3). FRB 20200413A was discovered only in the incoherent beam. FRB 20200915A (also discovered only in the incoherent beam) shows speckled emission in the dynamic spectrum, which cannot be explained by interstellar scintillation in our Galaxy or plasma lensing, and might be intrinsic to the source. FRB 20201123A shows a faint post-cursor burst of about 200 ms after the main burst and warrants further follow-up to confirm whether it is a repeating FRB. FRB 20201123A also exhibits significant temporal broadening, consistent with scattering, by a turbulent medium. The broadening exceeds from what is predicted for the medium along the sightline through our Galaxy. We associate this scattering with the turbulent medium in the environment of the FRB in the host galaxy. Within the approximately 1 arcmin localization region of FRB 20201123A, we identify one luminous galaxy (r ≈ 15.67; J173438.35-504550.4) that dominates the posterior probability for a host association. The galaxy’s measured properties are consistent with other FRB hosts with secure associations.

     
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  9. ABSTRACT

    More than 100 millisecond pulsars (MSPs) have been discovered in radio observations of gamma-ray sources detected by the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), but hundreds of pulsar-like sources remain unidentified. Here, we present the first results from the targeted survey of Fermi-LAT sources being performed by the Transients and Pulsars with MeerKAT (TRAPUM) Large Survey Project. We observed 79 sources identified as possible gamma-ray pulsar candidates by a Random Forest classification of unassociated sources from the 4FGL catalogue. Each source was observed for 10 min on two separate epochs using MeerKAT’s L-band receiver (856–1712 MHz), with typical pulsed flux density sensitivities of $\sim 100\, \mu$Jy. Nine new MSPs were discovered, eight of which are in binary systems, including two eclipsing redbacks and one system, PSR J1526−2744, that appears to have a white dwarf companion in an unusually compact 5 h orbit. We obtained phase-connected timing solutions for two of these MSPs, enabling the detection of gamma-ray pulsations in the Fermi-LAT data. A follow-up search for continuous gravitational waves from PSR J1526−2744 in Advanced LIGO data using the resulting Fermi-LAT timing ephemeris yielded no detection, but sets an upper limit on the neutron star ellipticity of 2.45 × 10−8. We also detected X-ray emission from the redback PSR J1803−6707 in data from the first eROSITA all-sky survey, likely due to emission from an intrabinary shock.

     
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  10. MeerKAT’s large number (64) of 13.5 m diameter antennas, spanning 8 km with a densely packed 1 km core, create a powerful instrument for wide-area surveys, with high sensitivity over a wide range of angular scales. The MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey (MGCLS) is a programme of long-track MeerKAT L -band (900−1670 MHz) observations of 115 galaxy clusters, observed for ∼6−10 h each in full polarisation. The first legacy product data release (DR1), made available with this paper, includes the MeerKAT visibilities, basic image cubes at ∼8″ resolution, and enhanced spectral and polarisation image cubes at ∼8″ and 15″ resolutions. Typical sensitivities for the full-resolution MGCLS image products range from ∼3−5 μJy beam −1 . The basic cubes are full-field and span 2° × 2°. The enhanced products consist of the inner 1.2° × 1.2° field of view, corrected for the primary beam. The survey is fully sensitive to structures up to ∼10′ scales, and the wide bandwidth allows spectral and Faraday rotation mapping. Relatively narrow frequency channels (209 kHz) are also used to provide H  I mapping in windows of 0 <  z  < 0.09 and 0.19 <  z  < 0.48. In this paper, we provide an overview of the survey and the DR1 products, including caveats for usage. We present some initial results from the survey, both for their intrinsic scientific value and to highlight the capabilities for further exploration with these data. These include a primary-beam-corrected compact source catalogue of ∼626 000 sources for the full survey and an optical and infrared cross-matched catalogue for compact sources in the primary-beam-corrected areas of Abell 209 and Abell S295. We examine dust unbiased star-formation rates as a function of cluster-centric radius in Abell 209, extending out to 3.5 R 200 . We find no dependence of the star-formation rate on distance from the cluster centre, and we observe a small excess of the radio-to-100 μm flux ratio towards the centre of Abell 209 that may reflect a ram pressure enhancement in the denser environment. We detect diffuse cluster radio emission in 62 of the surveyed systems and present a catalogue of the 99 diffuse cluster emission structures, of which 56 are new. These include mini-halos, halos, relics, and other diffuse structures for which no suitable characterisation currently exists. We highlight some of the radio galaxies that challenge current paradigms, such as trident-shaped structures, jets that remain well collimated far beyond their bending radius, and filamentary features linked to radio galaxies that likely illuminate magnetic flux tubes in the intracluster medium. We also present early results from the H  I analysis of four clusters, which show a wide variety of H  I mass distributions that reflect both sensitivity and intrinsic cluster effects, and the serendipitous discovery of a group in the foreground of Abell 3365. 
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