The MeerKAT telescope as a pulsar facility: System verification and early science results from MeerTime
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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 ( ) low-system temperature ( ) radio array that currently operates at 580–1 670 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 , pulse profiles from 34 millisecond pulsars (MSPs) 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 , 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 MSPs confirm that MeerKAT delivers exceptional timing. PSR exhibits a jitter limit of whilst timing of PSR 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 1 000 pulsars per day and the future deployment of S-band (1 750–3 500 MHz) receivers will further enhance its capabilities.