Construction of the Square Kilometer Array Radio Telescope begins

Construction of the Square Kilometer Array Radio Telescope begins

A representation of the SKA in South Africa (left) and Australia (right).

The biggest radio in the world telescope is officially under construction in Australia, where work is underway on a component of what will be a intercontinental instrument. When operational in the late 2020s, the telescope will provide a sharper and broader view of the universe in radio wavelengths.

The telescope is called the Square Kilometer Array, a reflection of the scientists’ original goal of having a collecting surface of one square kilometer; the real SHOULD it will have a collection area of ​​half a square kilometer. According to one Communication from the SKA Observatorythe teams celebrated the start of construction with ceremonies at project locations in Australia and South Africa.

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

The array radio dishes 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 wavelengths from deep space, so the SKA organizers chose these remote settings.

Having such massive scientific instruments in wild places is not without difficulties In Australia, ants can fry electronics, and termites build mounds around telescope antennas. Kangaroos occasionally suffer from existing instruments, i giant lizards named Steve walk around the arrays like they own the place. And geven the almost total absence of humansthey do

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

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

Bigger Telescope arrays offer better resolution—hence the excitement surrounding what will be the world’s largest radio telescope array.

“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,” said Danny Price, senior researcher at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy. he told AFP.

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

The Webb Space Telescope is also observing some of the earliest lights in the universe, but that observe at infrared and near-infrared wavelengths, rather than far longer radio wavelengths.

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

Read more: Webb telescope turns its eyes on Saturn’s mysterious moon Titan

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