The MeerKAT Telescope as a Pulsar Facility: System verification and early science results from MeerTime

Fabian Jankowski, Michael Keith, Xiaoxi Song, Benjamin Stappers, Patrick Weltevrede, et al.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe system verification tests and early science results from the pulsar processor (PTUSE) developed for the newly-commissioned 64-dish SARAO MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa. MeerKAT is a high-gain (∼ 2.8 K/Jy) low-system temperature (∼ 18 K at 20cm) radio array that currently operates from 580–1670 MHz and can produce tied-array beams suitable for pulsar observations. This paper presents results from the MeerTime Large Survey Project and commissioning tests with PTUSE. Highlights include observations of the double pulsar J0737−3039A, pulse profiles from 34 millisecond pulsars from a single 2.5 h observation of the Globular cluster Terzan 5, the rotation measure of Ter5O, a 420-sigma giant pulse from the Large Magellanic Cloud pulsar PSR J0540−6919, and nulling identified in the slow pulsar PSR J0633–2015. One of the key design specifications for MeerKAT was absolute timing errors of less than 5 ns using their novel precise time system. Our timing of two bright millisecond pulsars confirm that MeerKAT delivers exceptional timing. PSR J2241−5236 exhibits a jitter limit of < 4 ns per hour whilst timing of PSR J1909−3744 over almost 11 months yields an rms residual of 66 ns with only 4 min integrations. Our results confirm that the MeerKAT is an exceptional pulsar telescope. The array can be split into four separate sub-arrays to time over 1000 pulsars per day and the future deployment of S-band (1750–3500 MHz) receivers will further enhance its capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 May 2020


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