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15th of February 2024
A comparison of ASKAP RACS survey noise maps for RACS-Low2 and RACS-Low3,
Fast and furious 3: The RACS Holiday Special
by the RACS Team
As previous ADAPs have illustrated, ASKAP is an excellent instrument for surveying the sky. We had previously surveyed the sky four times with RACS (Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey), three times in different frequency bands (RACS-low, RACS-mid and RACS-high) and a fourth time to revisit the sky in the lowest frequency band (RACS-low2). Observing in different frequency bands allows us to understand the physics behind any specific object we are studying, i.e., is it a galaxy, a star or something more exotic? Observing multiple times allows us to find things that change over time, e.g., supernovae, pulsars, planets. It also allows us to visualise improvements in our observing and processing strategies. Over the 2023--2024 summer shutdown period (when the facilities are minimally staffed) we decided to put ASKAP to work to survey the entire sky again with minimal intervention (mostly automated using SAURON - the ASKAP autonomous scheduler). Our approach used some of the learnings from previous RACS observations -- we used a similar observing style to RACS-mid and RACS-high to improve response of the telescope (this is achieved by increasing the overlap in the 36 ASKAP beams) and a slightly higher frequency compared to RACS-low and RACS-low2 to avoid known radio frequency interference (RFI). The result was a 9% improvement in sensitivity and a slight increase in the amount of sky observed (we could edge slightly higher towards the northern sky). RACS-low3 was complete in 54 days and only used a total of 16.8 days of telescope time. The observations have already been processed (with one tantalising discovery already - stay tuned for news on that) and over the coming months we plan to release this data to the astronomical community.

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