The LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey – I. Survey Description and Preliminary Data Release

Shimwell, T. W.; Röttgering, H. J. A.; Best, P. N.; Williams, W. L.; Dijkema, T.J.; de Gasperin, F.; Hardcastle, M. J.; Heald, G. H.; Hoang, D. N.; Horneffer, A.; Intema, H.; Mahony, E. K.; Mandal, S.; Mechev, A. P.; Morabito, L.; Oonk, J. B. R.; Rafferty, D.; Retana-Montenegro, E.; Sabater, J.; Tasse, C.; van Weeren, R. J.; Brüggen, M.; Brunetti, G.; Chyży, K. T.; Conway, J. E.; Haverkorn, M.; Jackson, N.; Jarvis, M. J.; McKean, J. P.; Miley, G. K.; Morganti, R.; White, G. J.; Wise, M. W.; van Bemmel, I. M.; Beck, R.; Brienza, M.; Bonafede, A.; Calistro Rivera, G.; Cassano, R.; Clarke, A. O.; Cseh, D.; Deller, A.; Drabent, A.; van Driel, W.; Engels, D.; Falcke, H.; Ferrari, C.; Fröhlich, S.; Garrett, M. A.; Harwood, J. J.; Heesen, V.; Hoeft, M.; Horellou, C.; Israel, F. P.; Kapińska, A. D.; Kunert-Bajraszewska, M.; McKay, D. J.; Mohan, N. R.; Orrú, E.; Pizzo, R. F.; Prandoni, I.; Schwarz, D. J.; Shulevski, A.; Sipior, M.; Smith, D. J. B.; Sridhar, S. S.; Steinmetz, M.; Stroe, A.; Varenius, E.; van der Werf, P. P.; Zensus, J. A. and Zwart, J. T. L. (2016). The LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey – I. Survey Description and Preliminary Data Release. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 598, article no. A104.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201629313

Abstract

The LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey (LoTSS) is a deep 120-168MHz 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 ~5'' resolution images with a sensitivity of ~100 µJy/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. Owing 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 25'', 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 45°00'00'' to 57°00'00'').

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