First Image of the Sun with MeerKAT Solar Observations: Opening a New Frontier in Solar Physics


Solar radio emissions provide several unique diagnostics to estimate different physical parameters of the solar corona, which are otherwise simply inaccessible. However, imaging the highly dynamic solar coronal emissions spanning a large range of angular scales at radio wavelengths is extremely challenging. At GHz frequencies, the MeerKAT radio telescope is possibly globally the best-suited instrument at the present time and can provide high-fidelity spectroscopic snapshot solar images. Here, we present the first images of the Sun made using the observations with the MeerKAT at L-band (856 -- 1711 MHz). This work demonstrates the high fidelity of the MeerKAT solar images through a comparison with simulated radio images at the MeerKAT frequencies. The observed images show extremely good mophological similarities with the simulated images. A detailed comparison between the simulated radio map and observed MeerKAT radio images demonstrates that there is significant missing flux density in MeerKAT images at the higher frequencies of the observing band, though it can potentially be estimated and corrected for. We believe once solar observations with the MeerKAT are commissioned, they will not only enable a host of novel studies but also open the door to a large unexplored phase space with significant discovery potential.Comment: Preparing for submission, 14 pages, 9 figure

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