GLEAM-X: GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA survey — eXtended

The Murchison Widefield Array is a low-frequency radio telescope and precursor to what will be the world's largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometer Array. In 2017 it was upgraded to double its resolution, and a series of large surveys were undertaken to search the sky across a wide frequency range. This supercomputing project supports the surveys to process the raw data from the telescope into useful images of the sky.

Principal investigator

Natasha Hurley-Walker
Magnifying glass

Area of science

Radio Astronomy

Systems used


Applications used

Partner Institution: Curtin University | Project Code: pawsey0272

The Challenge

Radio astronomy data is large, about 40GB per two-minute observation, and these projects have collected thousands of observations. Supercomputers are required to process the data into useful images, and then knit those images together to make deep and wide mosaics of the sky.

The Solution

The MWA’s flagship survey, GLEAM, laid the foundation for how these surveys can be processed. With the upgrade to the MWA, the data are now more challenging to process, and there is a greater volume, but the basic steps are the same. Since 2017 we have been laying the groundwork; in 2020 the PI achieved funding for the survey; since then we have been processing data. In 2021 we successfully produced the first data release resulting in a submitted survey description paper. We also detected a new type of transient radio source which has resulted in an accepted paper in Nature. About one-third of the GLEAM-X survey has now been processed.

The Outcome

It would be impossible to process the petabytes of data taken by these surveys without supercomputing resources. Pawsey offers the required storage, fast data access, processing capabilities, and onward archiving required to make these surveys possible. This also pathfinds toward the resources and approaches required to make the SKA successful.



List of Publications

Hurley-Walker et al. (accepted): A radio transient with unusually slow periodic emission
Hurley-Walker et al. (submitted): GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey eXtended (GLEAM-X) I: Survey Description and Initial Data Release