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Construction has begun on the largest observatory in the world

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Construction on the world’s largest radio astronomy facility, the SKA Observatory, began on 5 December. This is a project that began 30 years ago and involves the construction of two huge telescopes, one in Australia and the other in South Africa.

 

Astronomers will use tracking telescopes to make precise measurements of gravity in extreme environments. In addition, they hope to discover the existence of complex molecules in planet-forming clouds around distant stars, which could be the first signs of life elsewhere in the Universe, writes Cathryn Trott, a radio astronomy researcher at Curtin University and scientist of the operations of the SKA project.

The SKA Observatory is an intergovernmental organization with dozens of countries involved. It has a UK headquarters and collaborators around the world who use advanced computers and software to adapt telescope signals to science.

The telescope in South Africa (called SKA-Mid) will use 197 radio antennas to observe radio waves and study the extreme environments of neutron stars, organic molecules around newly forming planets and the structure of the Universe at larger scales.

 

The Australian Telescope (SKA-Low), located in Western Australia, will observe the lower frequencies with 512 radio mast stations ( consisting of 256 broadband masts each) spread over a 74 km area .

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Construction has begun on the largest observatory in the world

The signals from each station’s Christmas tree-shaped antennas will be combined electronically to point to different parts of the sky, forming a single view .

Astrophysicists predict that both telescopes will be fully operational by the end of this decade.

  • In Australia and South Africa, construction has started on the biggest radio observatory in Earth’s history. (theconversation.com)
  • SKA observatory
 

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