Building Indo-UK collaborations towards the Square Kilometre Array

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Physics


The SKA Observatory (SKAO) is a next-generation radio telescope that is a truly global project, with partners in 16 countries, including the UK and India. The SKAO will answer fundamental questions in the field of astronomy, covering diverse topics like understanding how and when the first stars, galaxies and black holes formed and how they reionized the Universe; what energetic transient events can tell us about dynamic objects in the Universe; and understanding the nature of dark matter and how it influences galaxy evolution. This advancement comes with major Big Data challenges, as the SKAO is expected to generate 700 PB of data per year. While the SKAO will perform initial data processing in near real time, the end users (scientists) will interact with the data through SKAO Regional Centres (SRCs), where they can continue to process and analyse the data. In both the UK and India, SRCs are just starting to develop and there are many challenges to overcome before they are able to seamlessly offer the computational resources and functionality which will be needed by future scientists.

This timely project aims to develop existing and build new collaborations now between the UK and India, to address common data processing challenges and work together on common scientific interests that will inform imminent work with the SKAO. The SKAO is driving a fundamental shift in the paradigm of doing radio astronomy, in areas of big data (which necessitates real time or near data processing), the enormous scale of the instrumentation development, and in the sophisticated simulations that will be needed to interpret the vast amount of data collected. In particular, the way of processing and accessing data will be foreign for astronomers who are used to being able to download a data set to their normal workstation and process it on their own, and will require teams of people to produce scientific output. Our collected team of experts, who represent a range of scientific interests, have a vast amount of expertise with SKAO-like data challenges, and will come together to help train the next generation of scientists who will face SKAO data challenges, aid in developing world-class SRCs in the UK and India, and provide tools and data processing pipelines for the wider astronomical community.


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