MWA Epoch of Reionisation

The Epoch of Reionisation project aims to probe the first billion years of the Universe when the first stars and galaxies formed. In this period, hydrogen gas permeated the Universe, and we can observe this gas with low-frequency radio telescopes, such as the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). As the first stars and galaxies formed and shone, they evaporated this gas by ionising the protons and electrons, thus changing the signal observed with our telescopes. This project uses data from the MWA to try to explore this important era in the Universe's history.

Principal investigator

Cathryn Trott
Magnifying glass

Area of science


Systems used

Magnus, Zeus, Galaxy and Data Storage

Applications used

Python, C, RTS
Partner Institution: Curtin University| Project Code: mwaeor

The Challenge

The signal emitted by neutral hydrogen is incredibly weak, and buried within very bright signals from our own Galaxy and other galaxies. This makes its detection very challenging, and requires petabytes of raw data from the telescope. This amount of data, and the complexity of the data require high performance computing resources, clever processing algorithms and large storage facilities

The Solution

The incredibly large amount of data, and the complexity of the data require high performance computing resources, clever processing algorithms and large storage facilities. The University environment does not have access to the HPC facilities required for this project, but does house the expertise in radio astronomy, data analysis and algorithm development through the research team. It is the marriage of external, long-term HPC and academic expertise that can realise these scientific projects

The Outcome

Pawsey provides the computational, networking and storage needs for the project, while the research team develop and maintain the complex algorithms through software development and application. This is a multi-year project, and the long-term commitment of Pawsey to this project have made it possible to execute and achieve.


List of Publications

Title: In situ measurement of MWA primary beam variation
Authors: Line, J. L. B.; McKinley, B.; Rasti, J.;
Bhardwaj, M.; Wayth, R. B.; Webster, R. L.; Ung, D.;
Emrich, D.; Horsley, L.; Beardsley, A.; Crosse, B.;
Franzen, T. M. O.; Gaensler, B. M.;
Johnston-Hollitt, M.; Kaplan, D. L.; Kenney, D.;
Morales, M. F.; Pallot, D.; Steele, K.;
Tingay, S. J.; Trott, C. M.; Walker, M.;
Williams, A.; Wu, C.
Publication: Publications of the Astronomical Society of
Australia, Volume 35, pp. –
Publication Date: 12/2018

Title: Measuring the global 21-cm signal with the MWA-I:
improved measurements of the Galactic synchrotron
background using lunar occultation
Authors: McKinley, B.; Bernardi, G.; Trott, C. M.;
Line, J. L. B.; Wayth, R. B.; Offringa, A. R.;
Pindor, B.; Jordan, C. H.; Sokolowski, M.;
Tingay, S. J.; Lenc, E.; Hurley-Walker, N.;
Bowman, J. D.; Briggs, F.; Webster, R. L.
Publication: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society,
Volume 481, Issue 4, p.5034-5045
Publication Date: 12/2018

Title: The Effect of Baseline Layouts on the Epoch of
Reionization Foreground Wedge: A Semianalytical
Authors: Murray, Steven G.; Trott, C. M.
Publication: The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 869, Issue 1,
article id. 25, <NUMPAGES>23</NUMPAGES> pp. (2018).
Publication Date: 12/2018

Title: The Bias and Uncertainty of Redundant and Sky-based
Calibration Under Realistic Sky and Telescope
Authors: Joseph, Ronniy C.; Trott, Cathryn M.;
Wayth, Randall B.
Publication: The Astronomical Journal, Volume 156, Issue 6,
article id. 285, <NUMPAGES>12</NUMPAGES> pp. (2018).
Publication Date: 12/2018

Title: Assessment of Ionospheric Activity Tolerances for
Epoch of Reionization Science with the Murchison
Widefield Array
Authors: Trott, Cathryn M.; Jordan, C. H.; Murray, S. G.;
Pindor, B.; Mitchell, D. A.; Wayth, R. B.; Line, J.;
McKinley, B.; Beardsley, A.; Bowman, J.; Briggs, F.;
Hazelton, B. J.; Hewitt, J.; Jacobs, D.;
Morales, M. F.; Pober, J. C.; Sethi, S.; Shankar, U.;
Subrahmanyan, R.; Tegmark, M.; Tingay, S. J.;
Webster, R. L.; Wyithe, J. S. B.
Publication: The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 867, Issue 1,
article id. 15, <NUMPAGES>14</NUMPAGES> pp. (2018).
Publication Date: 11/2018
Title: powerbox: A Python package for creating structured
fields with isotropic power spectra
Authors: Murray, Steven G.
Publication: Journal of Open Source Software, vol. 3, issue 28,
p. 850
Publication Date: 08/2018
Title: Comparing Redundant and Sky-model-based
Interferometric Calibration: A First Look with Phase
II of the MWA
Authors: Li, W.; Pober, J. C.; Hazelton, B. J.; Barry, N.;
Morales, M. F.; Sullivan, I.; Parsons, A. R.;
Ali, Z. S.; Dillon, J. S.; Beardsley, A. P.;
Bowman, J. D.; Briggs, F.; Byrne, R.; Carroll, P.;
Crosse, B.; Emrich, D.; Ewall-Wice, A.; Feng, L.;
Franzen, T. M. O.; Hewitt, J. N.; Horsley, L.;
Jacobs, D. C.; Johnston-Hollitt, M.; Jordan, C.;
Joseph, R. C.; Kaplan, D. L.; Kenney, D.; Kim, H.;
Kittiwisit, P.; Lanman, A.; Line, J.; McKinley, B.;
Mitchell, D. A.; Murray, S.; Neben, A.;
Offringa, A. R.; Pallot, D.; Paul, S.; Pindor, B.;
Procopio, P.; Rahimi, M.; Riding, J.; Sethi, S. K.;
Udaya Shankar, N.; Steele, K.; Subrahmanian, R.;
Tegmark, M.; Thyagarajan, N.; Tingay, S. J.;
Trott, C.; Walker, M.; Wayth, R. B.; Webster, R. L.;
Williams, A.; Wu, C.; Wyithe, S.
Publication: The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 863, Issue 2,
article id. 170, <NUMPAGES>16</NUMPAGES> pp. (2018).
Publication Date: 08/2018

Title: A Clustered Extragalactic Foreground Model for the
Authors: Murray, S. G.; Trott, C. M.; Jordan, C. H.
Publication: Peering towards Cosmic Dawn, Proceedings of the
International Astronomical Union, IAU Symposium,
Volume 333, pp. 199-202
Publication Date: 05/2018

Figure 2. ForA_shif_fire: New model for Fornax A based on improved MWA angular resolution (B. McKinley)