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4th of April 2023
SKA Science Data Challenge 2: analysis and results
by Hartley et al.
The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) will explore the radio sky to new depths in order to conduct transformational science. SKAO data products made available to astronomers will be correspondingly large and complex, requiring the application of advanced analysis techniques to extract key science findings. To this end, SKAO is conducting a series of Science Data Challenges, each designed to familiarise the scientific community with SKAO data and to drive the development of new analysis techniques. Hartley et al. present the results from Science Data Challenge 2 (SDC2), which invited participants to find and characterise 233245 neutral hydrogen (HI) sources in a simulated data product representing a 2000 h SKA-Mid spectral line observation from redshifts 0.25 to 0.5. With the support of eight international supercomputing facilities, including the Australian SKA Regional Centre, participants were able to undertake the Challenge using dedicated computational resources. Alongside the main challenge, "reproducibility awards" were made in recognition of those pipelines which demonstrated Open Science best practice. The Challenge saw over 100 participants, in 12 teams, develop a range of new and existing techniques, with results that highlight the strengths of multidisciplinary and collaborative effort. The winning strategy -- which combined predictions from two independent machine learning techniques to yield a 20 percent improvement in overall performance -- underscores one of the main Challenge outcomes: that of method complementarity. It is likely that the combination of methods in a so-called ensemble approach will be key to exploiting very large astronomical datasets. The image above is a 3D view of a sub-set of the full simulated HI emission datacube, containing 2683 HI sources. The cube uses 1286 × 1286 × 6668 pixels to represent a 1 square degree field of view across the full Challenge frequency range 0.95--1.15 GHz (redshift 0.235--0.495). The two shorter axes represent the spatial dimensions and the longer axis the frequency dimension.

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