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  1. 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.more »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  2. In April 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration revealed the first image of the candidate super- massive black hole (SMBH) at the centre of the giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87). This event-horizon-scale image shows a ring of glowing plasma with a dark patch at the centre, which is interpreted as the shadow of the black hole. This breakthrough result, which represents a powerful confirmation of Einstein’s theory of gravity, or general relativity, was made possible by assembling a global network of radio telescopes operating at millimetre wavelengths that for the first time included the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Arraymore »(ALMA). The addition of ALMA as an anchor station has enabled a giant leap forward by increasing the sensitivity limits of the EHT by an order of magnitude, effectively turning it into an imaging array. The published image demonstrates that it is now possible to directly study the event horizon shadows of SMBHs via electromagnetic radiation, thereby transforming this elusive frontier from a mathematical concept into an astrophysical reality. The expansion of the array over the next few years will include new stations on different continents — and eventually satellites in space. This will provide progressively sharper and higher-fidelity images of SMBH candidates, and potentially even movies of the hot plasma orbiting around SMBHs. These improvements will shed light on the processes of black hole accretion and jet formation on event-horizon scales, thereby enabling more precise tests of general relativity in the truly strong field regime.« less
  3. Context. Realistic synthetic observations of theoretical source models are essential for our understanding of real observational data. In using synthetic data, one can verify the extent to which source parameters can be recovered and evaluate how various data corruption effects can be calibrated. These studies are the most important when proposing observations of new sources, in the characterization of the capabilities of new or upgraded instruments, and when verifying model-based theoretical predictions in a direct comparison with observational data. Aims. We present the SYnthetic Measurement creator for long Baseline Arrays ( SYMBA ), a novel synthetic data generation pipeline formore »Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations. SYMBA takes into account several realistic atmospheric, instrumental, and calibration effects. Methods. We used SYMBA to create synthetic observations for the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a millimetre VLBI array, which has recently captured the first image of a black hole shadow. After testing SYMBA with simple source and corruption models, we study the importance of including all corruption and calibration effects, compared to the addition of thermal noise only. Using synthetic data based on two example general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD) model images of M 87, we performed case studies to assess the image quality that can be obtained with the current and future EHT array for different weather conditions. Results. Our synthetic observations show that the effects of atmospheric and instrumental corruptions on the measured visibilities are significant. Despite these effects, we demonstrate how the overall structure of our GRMHD source models can be recovered robustly with the EHT2017 array after performing calibration steps, which include fringe fitting, a priori amplitude and network calibration, and self-calibration. With the planned addition of new stations to the EHT array in the coming years, images could be reconstructed with higher angular resolution and dynamic range. In our case study, these improvements allowed for a distinction between a thermal and a non-thermal GRMHD model based on salient features in reconstructed images.« less