The LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey - I. Survey description and preliminary data release

T. W. Shimwell, H. J. A. Röttgering, Philip N. Best, W. L. Williams, T. J. Dijkema, F. de Gasperin, M. J. Hardcastle, G. H. Heald, D. N. Hoang, A. Horneffer, H. Intema, E. K. Mahony, S. Mandal, A. P. Mechev, L. K. Morabito, J. B. R. Oonk, D. Rafferty, E. Retana-Montenegro, Jose Sabater, C. TasseR. J. van Weeren, M. Brüggen, Gianfranco Brunetti, K. T. Chyży, J. E. Conway, Marijke Haverkorn, N. Jackson, M. J. Jarvis, J. P. McKean, G. K. Miley, R. Morganti, G. J. White, M. W. Wise, I. M. van Bemmel, Rainer Beck, M. Brienza, Annalisa Bonafede, G. Calistro Rivera, Rossella Cassano, A. O. Clarke, D. Cseh, A. Deller, A. Drabent, W. van Driel, D. Engels, H. Falcke, Chiara Ferrari, S. Fröhlich, M. A. Garrett, J. J. Harwood, V. Heesen, M. Hoeft, C. Horellou, F. P. Israel, A. D. Kapińska, M. Kunert-Bajraszewska, D. J. McKay, N. R. Mohan, E. Orrú, R. F. Pizzo, I. Prandoni, Dominik J. Schwarz, A. Shulevski, M. Sipior, D. J. B. Smith, S. S. Sridhar, Matthias Steinmetz, A. Stroe, E. Varenius, P. Van Der Werf, J. A. Zensus, J. T. L. Zwart

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Abstract

The LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey (LoTSS) is a deep 120-168 MHz imaging survey that will eventually cover the entire Northern sky. Each of the 3170 pointings will be observed for 8 hrs, which, at most declinations, is sufficient to produce ~5arcsec resolution images with a sensitivity of ~0.1mJy/beam and accomplish the main scientific aims of the survey which are to explore the formation and evolution of massive black holes, galaxies, clusters of galaxies and large-scale structure. Due to the compact core and long baselines of LOFAR, the images provide excellent sensitivity to both highly extended and compact emission. For legacy value, the data are archived at high spectral and time resolution to facilitate subarcsecond imaging and spectral line studies. In this paper we provide an overview of the LoTSS. We outline the survey strategy, the observational status, the current calibration techniques, a preliminary data release, and the anticipated scientific impact. The preliminary images that we have released were created using a fully-automated but direction-independent calibration strategy and are significantly more sensitive than those produced by any existing large-area low-frequency survey. In excess of 44,000 sources are detected in the images that have a resolution of 25arcsec, typical noise levels of less than 0.5 mJy/beam, and cover an area of over 350 square degrees in the region of the HETDEX Spring Field (right ascension 10h45m00s to 15h30m00s and declination 45d00m00s to 57d00m00s).
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA104
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Volume598
Early online date9 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 9 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • astro-ph.IM
  • astro-ph.CO
  • surveys
  • catalogs
  • radio: continuum: general
  • techniques: image processing
  • RCUK
  • STFC
  • ST/M001229/1
  • ST/M001008/1
  • ST/J001600/1

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