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EMU Widefield ouTlier Finder (WTF) project

The ASKAP-EMU project will increase the total number of known radio sources from ~2.5 million to ~70 million. A project called WTF (Widefield ouTlier Finder) project will mine EMU data to discover unexpected science using a variety of techniques and algorithms.

7 May 2015

Dear colleague

As you may well be aware, the majority of discoveries in astronomy have come from unplanned discoveries made by surveying the Universe in a new way, rather than by testing a hypothesis or conducting an investigation with planned outcomes. For example, of the 10 greatest discoveries by HST, only one was listed in its key science goals.

We are now ramping up the ASKAP-EMU project, which will use the new ASKAP telescope to survey the radio sky, increasing the total number of known radio sources from ~2.5 million to ~70 million. An overview of EMU can be found on

Given that EMU is significantly expanding the volume of observational phase space, we can be reasonably confident that we will stumble across unexpected new phenomena or new types of object. However, the complexity of the instrument and the large data volumes mean that it may be non-trivial to identify them. On the other hand, if we don't, then we may be missing out on the most exciting science results from EMU.

We are therefore putting together a project called WTF (Widefield ouTlier Finder) project in EMU, which explicitly aims to mine EMU data to discover unexpected science that is not part of our primary science goals, using a variety of techniques and algorithms.  A very superficial overview is given on

 I propose to kick off the project by discussing, using a  combination of wiki, email, and telecon, what steps we should take to get it on the road. For example, I envisage (a) a number of different groups and individuals trying out different approaches and algorithms, (b) a data challenge in which we invite those groups/individuals to detect  hidden science in existing data, and (c) writing a review paper (in a peer-reviewed journal) describing the current state of art in this field, and how we plan to move forward.

If you would like to join this project, please join up now by emailing me or by adding your name to the wiki page

Once the team is assembled, we will start discussing the optimum strategy to get it moving. 

Many thanks,



Prof. Ray Norris

EMU project leader

CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science

& Macquarie University Dept. of Indigenous Studies (Warawara)

& School of Computing, Engineering, &Maths, UWS

Tel: +61 417 288 307