SKA Science Data Challenge 2: analysis and results

P. Hartley, A. Bonaldi, R. Braun, J. N. H. S. Aditya, S. Aicardi, L. Alegre, A. Chakraborty, X. Chen, S. Choudhuri, A. O. Clarke, J. Coles, J. S. Collinson, D. Cornu, L. Darriba, M. Delli Veneri, J. Forbrich, B. Fraga, A. Galan, J. Garrido, F. GubanovH. Håkansson, M. J. Hardcastle, C. Heneka, D. Herranz, K. M. Hess, M. Jagannath, S. Jaiswal, R. J. Jurek, D. Korber, S. Kitaeff, D. Kleiner, B. Lao, X. Lu, A. Mazumder, J. Moldón, R. Mondal, S. Ni, M. Önnheim, M. Parra, N. Patra, A. Peel, P. Salomé, S. Sánchez-Expósito, M. Sargent, B. Semelin, P. Serra, A. K. Shaw, A. X. Shen, A. Sjöberg, L. Smith, A. Soroka, V. Stolyarov, E. Tolley, M. C. Toribio, J. M. van der Hulst, A. Vafaei Sadr, L. Verdes-Montenegro, T. Westmeier, K. Yu, L. Yu, L. Zhang, X. Zhang, Y. Zhang, A. Alberdi, M. Ashdown, C. R. Bom, M. Brüggen, J. Cannon, R. Chen, F. Combes, J. Conway, F. Courbin, J. Ding, G. Fourestey, J. Freundlich, L. Gao, C. Gheller, Q. Guo, E. Gustavsson, M. Jirstrand, M. G. Jones, G. Józsa, P. Kamphuis, J. -P. Kneib, M. Lindqvist, B. Liu, Y. Liu, Y. Mao, A. Marchal, I. Márquez, A. Meshcheryakov, M. Olberg, N. Oozeer, M. Pandey-Pommier, W. Pei, B. Peng, J. Sabater, A. Sorgho, J. L. Starck, C. Tasse, A. Wang, Y. Wang, H. Xi, X. Yang, H. Zhang, J. Zhang, M. Zhao, S. Zuo

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The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) will explore the radio sky to new depths in order to conduct transformational science. SKAO data products made available to astronomers will be correspondingly large and complex, requiring the application of advanced analysis techniques to extract key science findings. To this end, SKAO is conducting a series of Science Data Challenges, each designed to familiarise the scientific community with SKAO data and to drive the development of new analysis techniques. We present the results from Science Data Challenge 2 (SDC2), which invited participants to find and characterise 233245 neutral hydrogen (Hi) sources in a simulated data product representing a 2000~h SKA MID spectral line observation from redshifts 0.25 to 0.5. Through the generous support of eight international supercomputing facilities, participants were able to undertake the Challenge using dedicated computational resources. Alongside the main challenge, `reproducibility awards' were made in recognition of those pipelines which demonstrated Open Science best practice. The Challenge saw over 100 participants develop a range of new and existing techniques, with results that highlight the strengths of multidisciplinary and collaborative effort. The winning strategy -- which combined predictions from two independent machine learning techniques to yield a 20 percent improvement in overall performance -- underscores one of the main Challenge outcomes: that of method complementarity. It is likely that the combination of methods in a so-called ensemble approach will be key to exploiting very large astronomical datasets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1967–1993
Number of pages27
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date31 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2023


  • astro-ph.IM
  • astro-ph.CO
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