The aim of combining MeerKAT with MeerLICHT is to always obtain simultaneous radio and optical data, ensuring that every detected transient will have multi-wavelength coverage. ThunderKAT will always be hunting for transients on a dedicated data spigot, tapping all the data from MeerKAT for transient detection.
Transient science is multi-wavelength science. The ‘one-off’ nature of many transients implies that we need to gather as much information as possible at the time of the explosion, to understand the physics of what has happened deep in the Universe. Until now all transient surveys have been reactive: a transient is found in one wavelength regime (e.g. radio) and after detection other wavelength regimes are triggered (X-rays, optical, etc.). Here we want to completely change this game and actively go for the multi-wavelength approach: always obtain simultaneous radio and optical data, by linking an optical telescope to the MeerKAT array robotically.
This means that when a radio transient appears during, say, a 12-hour deep HI integration on a nearby galaxy, we will not only have the radio light curve during and before the transient, but also the optical light curve during and before the transient.