November 27, 2023 to December 1, 2023
Universita' di Catania, Dipartimento di Fisica
Europe/Rome timezone

The Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) invites the astrophysical community to attend the “The Fourth National Workshop  on the SKA Project - Sharpening the Italian science case for the SKAO”, that will be held on 27 November - 1 December 2023 in Catania.

Important Deadlines:

Call for abstracts closes on 20 September 2023

Registration closes on 20 October 2023

Programme: To be announced in mid October

Workshop description and aims

The establishment of the SKA Observatory (SKAO) in February 2021 has formally started the process leading to the construction of one of the mega-science facilities of the 21st Century, with full operations expected around 2030. With nearly 200 dishes in South Africa and more than 130,000 antennas in Western Australia operating across the radio spectrum, the SKAO’s telescopes will transform our understanding of the Universe. 

The SKAO will enable a wealth of unique discoveries in areas as diverse as the formation of Earth-like planets, the origin of gravitational waves, the origin of cosmic magnetic fields, the formation and growth of stars, galaxies and black holes, as well as large scale structures, back to the epoch of reionization and cosmic dawn. The SKAO’s telescopes will revolutionize our knowledge in all fields of modern astrophysics and cosmology and will have substantial scientific applications also in the field of general and astroparticle physics. 

Awaiting the SKAO’s telescopes, radio astronomy is rapidly advancing under the impulse of a number of new, state-of-the-art facilities, collectively known as precursors and pathfinders. In particular, the advent of LOFAR, and more recently ASKAP and MeerKAT, has considerably broadened the observational parameter space and opened new windows on several astrophysical areas. The exploitation of these facilities will naturally lead to the definition of the SKA surveys, the development of new data analysis skills, and ultimately the formation of national and international SKA teams. 

Italy, through the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), has been involved in the project since the establishment of the SKA Organization (2012) and is one of the six countries that founded the newborn SKA Observatory (SKAO). On the way to SKAO operations, INAF joined the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) in 2018 and the MeerKAT+ project (an extension of MeerKAT) in 2020. In addition to this, INAF is working towards the establishment of a dedicated data analysis facility which will join the so-called SKA Regional Centers network (SRCnet): a distributed network of data centres housing high-end computing facilities for data processing and long-term archiving, which are also expected to provide proposal preparation and data handling support to SKA users. Italy is, therefore, in an ideal position to play an essential role in the SKA precursor era and to improve over the years the scientific and technical expertise needed to get leadership roles in future SKA surveys while easing early engagement in SKAO operations.

Considering that the next 5 years will be critical for the scientific exploitation of the SKA precursors and for the preparation of future SKA surveys, time is appropriate to start organising and coordinating the Italian community and prepare it for the scientific exploitation of the SKAO.

The main goals of this Fourth National Conference are:

  1. present to the broad Italian scientific community the SKAO construction activities currently ongoing in Italy, as well as other technology projects relevant to the SKAO;
  2. review the ongoing SKA-related scientific activities in Italy, either resulting from precursors and pathfinders or theoretical/simulation studies, or planning for the synergistic use of other facilities. The community is encouraged to present their work in a prospective manner, giving particular emphasis to plans for future SKA surveys;
  3. present the ongoing activities towards the development of the Italian node of the SKA Regional Center network, as well as the Italian contribution to SKA-related data analysis tools and pipelines;
  4. stimulate scientific collaborations at a national level among the various groups interested in exploiting new-generation radio surveys and start organising the future SKA teams. 

The workshop will include both plenary and parallel sessions. The parallel sessions will cover the following scientific themes:

  • Cosmology
  • Cradle of Life & Our Galaxy
  • Epoch of Reionization and Cosmic Dawn
  • Galaxy Clusters & LSS (relativistic particles and magnetic fields)
  • Galaxy Evolution & AGN
  • Pulsars & GW detection (PTAs)
  • Transients & GW follow-up

and will serve to give the community at large (not only the radio astronomical one) the opportunity to discuss common scientific interests, establish and/or widen collaborations in the context of the SKA precursors and pathfinders, and develop a roadmap towards future SKA surveys. 

Universita' di Catania, Dipartimento di Fisica
Aula Magna
The meeting will be held at the Department of Physics of the University of Catania, which is located in Via S. Sofia 64, Catania. The plenary sessions will be held in the Aula Magna of the Department. Further details on the exact location of the parallel sessions will be communicated closer to the meeting.
Registration for this event is currently open.