Science

Construction begins on a radio telescope with a square kilometer array

Construction begins on a radio telescope with a square kilometer array

Introducing the SKA in South Africa (left) and Australia (right).

The world’s largest radio telescope is officially under construction in Australia, where one is in the works component of what will be intercontinental instrument. When operational in the late 2020s, the telescope will offer a sharper and wider view of the The universe in radio waves.

The telescope is called the Square Kilometer Array, a reflection of the scientists’ original goal of having a collection surface of one square kilometer; on actually SHOULD there will be a collection area of ​​half a square kilometer. According to art Publication of the SKA Observatorythe teams celebrated on starting construction with ceremonies at project sites in Australia and South Africa.

The array will be a combination of nearly 200 radio antennas and 130,000 dipoles that are smaller, terrestrial antennas. In other words, the SKA is one large telescope made up of many smaller telescopes.

The array’s radio antennas will be located in South Africa Karoo Desert, and its Christmas tree-shaped antennae will be located deep in the Western Australian outback. Radio telescopes need radio silence to be able to focus on the long wavelengths of deep space, so the SKA organizers chose such remote settings.

Having such massive scientific instruments in wild places doesn’t come without it difficulties. In Australia, ants can fry electronics, and termites build mounds around telescope antennas. Kangaroos occasionally kick existing tools, and giant lizards named Steve they walk around the arrays like they own the place. and geven the almost complete absence of peoplethey kind of do.

Composite image of planned SKA dishes (left) and completed MeerKAT dishes (right) in South Africa.

Numerous predecessors of the SKA already existincluding the MeerKAT array in South Africa, which took a stunning image of the “threads” at the galactic center. But only now are parts of the SKA core being built after years of design and planning. The completed SKA is expected to be operational in the late 2020s.

Bigger telescopic gratings offer better resolution—hence the excitement surrounding what will be the world’s largest radio telescope.

“To put the SKA’s sensitivity into perspective, the SKA could detect a mobile phone in an astronaut’s pocket on Mars, 225 million kilometers away,” Danny Price, senior research fellow at the Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy, said AFP.

The SKA will observe massive compact objects such as pulsars and black holes to better understand gravitational waves, as well as the age of reionizationwhen the first galaxies and stars appeared, and the first billion years of the universe.

The Webb Space Telescope also looked at some of the earliest lights in the universe, but observes at infrared and near-infrared wavelengths, not many longer radio wave lengths.

Combine these cutting-edge observatories with the number of new space missions set to launch at the start of the decade, and it’s clear that we’re in for some very interesting astrophysical insights in the coming years.

More: The Webb Telescope takes a look at Saturn’s mysterious moon Titan

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