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  • richardmitnick 9:48 pm on November 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomers develop novel way to ‘see’ first stars through fog of early Universe", "REACH": Radio Experiment for the Analysis of Cosmic Hydrogen, "Seeing" through the fog of the early Universe and detect light from the first stars and galaxies., (SARAO)-South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, , , Because of gravity the elements eventually came together and the conditions were right for nuclear fusion which is what formed the first stars., , , Observing the birth of the first stars and galaxies has been a goal of astronomers for decades., The signal that astronomers aim to detect is expected to be approximately one hundred thousand times weaker than other radio signals coming also from the sky., ,   

    From The University of Cambridge (UK) Cavendish Laboratory – Department of Physics : “Astronomers develop novel way to ‘see’ first stars through fog of early Universe” 

    From The University of Cambridge (UK) Cavendish Laboratory – Department of Physics

    U Cambridge bloc

    7.21.22 [Just found this.]
    Jacqueline Garget
    External Affairs and Communications team
    The University of Cambridge (UK)
    jg533@cam.ac.uk

    1
    Artist’s impression of stars springing up out of the darkness. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    A team of astronomers has developed a method that will allow them to ‘see’ through the fog of the early Universe and detect light from the first stars and galaxies.

    The researchers, led by the University of Cambridge, have developed a methodology that will allow them to observe and study the first stars through the clouds of hydrogen that filled the Universe about 378,000 years after the Big Bang.

    Observing the birth of the first stars and galaxies has been a goal of astronomers for decades, as it will help explain how the Universe evolved from the emptiness after the Big Bang to the complex realm of celestial objects we observe today, 13.8 billion years later.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – a next-generation telescope due to be completed by the end of the decade – will likely be able to make images of the earliest light in the Universe, but for current telescopes the challenge is to detect the cosmological signal of the stars through the thick hydrogen clouds.







    The signal that astronomers aim to detect is expected to be approximately one hundred thousand times weaker than other radio signals coming also from the sky – for example, radio signals originating in our own galaxy.

    Using a radio telescope itself introduces distortions to the signal received, which can completely obscure the cosmological signal of interest. This is considered an extreme observational challenge in modern radio cosmology. Such instrument-related distortions are commonly blamed as the major bottleneck in this type of observation.

    Now the Cambridge-led team has developed a methodology to see through the primordial clouds and other sky noise signals, avoiding the detrimental effect of the distortions introduced by the radio telescope. Their methodology, part of the REACH (Radio Experiment for the Analysis of Cosmic Hydrogen) experiment, will allow astronomers to observe the earliest stars through their interaction with the hydrogen clouds, in the same way we would infer a landscape by looking at shadows in the fog.

    Their method will improve the quality and reliability of observations from radio telescopes looking at this unexplored key time in the development of the Universe. The first observations from REACH are expected later this year.

    The results are reported today in the journal Nature Astronomy [below].

    “At the time when the first stars formed, the Universe was mostly empty and composed mostly of hydrogen and helium,” said Dr Eloy de Lera Acedo from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, the paper’s lead author.

    He added: “Because of gravity, the elements eventually came together and the conditions were right for nuclear fusion, which is what formed the first stars. But they were surrounded by clouds of so-called neutral hydrogen, which absorb light really well, so it’s hard to detect or observe the light behind the clouds directly.”

    In 2018, another research group (running the ‘Experiment to Detect the Global Epoch of Reionization Signature’ – or EDGES) published a result that hinted at a possible detection of this earliest light, but astronomers have been unable to repeat the result – leading them to believe that the original result may have been due to interference from the telescope being used.

    “The original result would require new physics to explain it, due to the temperature of the hydrogen gas, which should be much cooler than our current understanding of the Universe would allow. Alternatively, an unexplained higher temperature of the background radiation – typically assumed to be the well-known Cosmic Microwave Background – could be the cause” said de Lera Acedo.

    He added: “If we can confirm that the signal found in that earlier experiment really was from the first stars, the implications would be huge.”

    In order to study this period in the Universe’s development, often referred to as the Cosmic Dawn, astronomers study the 21-centimetre line – an electromagnetic radiation signature from hydrogen in the early Universe.

    Dark Energy Camera Enables Astronomers a Glimpse at the Cosmic Dawn. Credit: The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (国立天文台](JP).

    They look for a radio signal that measures the contrast between the radiation from the hydrogen and the radiation behind the hydrogen fog.

    The methodology developed by de Lera Acedo and his colleagues uses Bayesian statistics to detect a cosmological signal in the presence of interference from the telescope and general noise from the sky, so that the signals can be separated.

    To do this, state-of-the-art techniques and technologies from different fields have been required.

    The researchers used simulations to mimic a real observation using multiple antennas, which improves the reliability of the data – earlier observations have relied on a single antenna.

    “Our method jointly analyses data from multiple antennas and across a wider frequency band than equivalent current instruments. This approach will give us the necessary information for our Bayesian data analysis,” said de Lera Acedo.

    He added: “In essence, we forgot about traditional design strategies and instead focused on designing a telescope suited to the way we plan to analyze the data – something like an inverse design. This could help us measure things from the Cosmic Dawn and into the epoch of reionization, when hydrogen in the Universe was reionized.”

    Epoch of Reionization and first stars. Credit: California Institute of Technology.

    The telescope’s construction is currently being finalized at the Karoo radio reserve in South Africa, a location chosen for its excellent conditions for radio observations of the sky. It is far away from human-made radio frequency interference, for example television and FM radio signals.

    The REACH team of over 30 researchers is multidisciplinary and distributed worldwide, with experts in fields such as theoretical and observational cosmology, antenna design, radio frequency instrumentation, numerical modelling, digital processing, big data and Bayesian statistics. REACH is co-led by the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

    Professor de Villiers, co-lead of the project at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa said: “Although the antenna technology used for this instrument is rather simple, the harsh and remote deployment environment, and the strict tolerances required in the manufacturing, make this a very challenging project to work on.”

    He added: “We are extremely excited to see how well the system will perform, and have full confidence we’ll make that elusive detection.”

    The Big Bang and very early times of the Universe are well understood epochs, thanks to studies of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation.

    Even better understood is the late and widespread evolution of stars and other celestial objects. But the time of formation of the first light in the Cosmos is a fundamental missing piece in the puzzle of the history of the Universe.

    The research was supported by the Kavli Institute for Cosmology in Cambridge (UK), the National Research Foundation (South Africa), the Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA trust (UK) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

    Science paper:
    Nature Astronomy

    See the full article here .

    Comments are invited and will be appreciated, especially if the reader finds any errors which I can correct. Use “Reply”.

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    2

    The Cavendish Laboratory is the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, and is part of the School of Physical Sciences. The laboratory was opened in 1874 on the New Museums Site as a laboratory for experimental physics and is named after the British chemist and physicist Henry Cavendish. The laboratory has had a huge influence on research in the disciplines of physics and biology.

    As of 2019, 30 Cavendish researchers have won Nobel Prizes. Notable discoveries to have occurred at the Cavendish Laboratory include the discovery of the electron, neutron, and structure of DNA.

    The Cavendish Laboratory was initially located on the New Museums Site, Free School Lane, in the centre of Cambridge. It is named after British chemist and physicist Henry Cavendish for contributions to science and his relative William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire, who served as chancellor of the university and donated funds for the construction of the laboratory.

    Professor James Clerk Maxwell, the developer of electromagnetic theory, was a founder of the laboratory and the first Cavendish Professor of Physics. The Duke of Devonshire had given to Maxwell, as head of the laboratory, the manuscripts of Henry Cavendish’s unpublished Electrical Works. The editing and publishing of these was Maxwell’s main scientific work while he was at the laboratory. Cavendish’s work aroused Maxwell’s intense admiration and he decided to call the Laboratory (formerly known as the Devonshire Laboratory) the Cavendish Laboratory and thus to commemorate both the Duke and Henry Cavendish.

    Physics

    Several important early physics discoveries were made here, including the discovery of the electron by J.J. Thomson (1897); the Townsend discharge by John Sealy Townsend and the development of the cloud chamber by C.T.R. Wilson.

    Ernest Rutherford became Director of the Cavendish Laboratory in 1919. Under his leadership the neutron was discovered by James Chadwick in 1932, and in the same year the first experiment to split the nucleus in a fully controlled manner was performed by students working under his direction; John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton.

    Physical chemistry

    Physical Chemistry (originally the department of Colloid Science led by Eric Rideal) had left the old Cavendish site, subsequently locating as the Department of Physical Chemistry (under RG Norrish) in the then new chemistry building with the Department of Chemistry (led by Lord Todd) in Lensfield Road: both chemistry departments merged in the 1980s.

    Nuclear physics

    In World War II the laboratory carried out research for the MAUD Committee, part of the British Tube Alloys project of research into the atomic bomb. Researchers included Nicholas Kemmer, Alan Nunn May, Anthony French, Samuel Curran and the French scientists including Lew Kowarski and Hans von Halban. Several transferred to Canada in 1943; the Montreal Laboratory and some later to the Chalk River Laboratories. The production of plutonium and neptunium by bombarding uranium-238 with neutrons was predicted in 1940 by two teams working independently: Egon Bretscher and Norman Feather at the Cavendish and Edwin M. McMillan and Philip Abelson at Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at The University of California-Berkeley.

    Biology

    The Cavendish Laboratory has had an important influence on biology, mainly through the application of X-ray crystallography to the study of structures of biological molecules. Francis Crick already worked in the Medical Research Council Unit, headed by Max Perutz and housed in the Cavendish Laboratory, when James Watson came from the United States and they made a breakthrough in discovering the structure of DNA. For their work while in the Cavendish Laboratory, they were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962, together with Maurice Wilkins of King’s College London (UK), himself a graduate of St. John’s College, Cambridge.

    The discovery was made on 28 February 1953; the first Watson/Crick paper appeared in Nature on 25 April 1953. Sir Lawrence Bragg, the director of the Cavendish Laboratory, where Watson and Crick worked, gave a talk at Guy’s Hospital Medical School in London on Thursday 14 May 1953 which resulted in an article by Ritchie Calder in The News Chronicle of London, on Friday 15 May 1953, entitled Why You Are You. Nearer Secret of Life. The news reached readers of The New York Times the next day; Victor K. McElheny, in researching his biography, Watson and DNA: Making a Scientific Revolution, found a clipping of a six-paragraph New York Times article written from London and dated 16 May 1953 with the headline Form of `Life Unit’ in Cell Is Scanned. The article ran in an early edition and was then pulled to make space for news deemed more important. (The New York Times subsequently ran a longer article on 12 June 1953). The Cambridge University undergraduate newspaper Varsity also ran its own short article on the discovery on Saturday 30 May 1953. Bragg’s original announcement of the discovery at a Solvay Conference on proteins in Belgium on 8 April 1953 went unreported by the British press.

    Sydney Brenner, Jack Dunitz, Dorothy Hodgkin, Leslie Orgel, and Beryl M. Oughton, were some of the first people in April 1953 to see the model of the structure of DNA, constructed by Crick and Watson; at the time they were working at The University of Oxford (UK)’s Chemistry Department. All were impressed by the new DNA model, especially Brenner who subsequently worked with Crick at Cambridge in the Cavendish Laboratory and the new Laboratory of Molecular Biology. According to the late Dr. Beryl Oughton, later Rimmer, they all travelled together in two cars once Dorothy Hodgkin announced to them that they were off to Cambridge to see the model of the structure of DNA. Orgel also later worked with Crick at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

    U Cambridge Campus

    The University of Cambridge (UK) [legally The Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Cambridge] is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209 Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university. It grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford (UK) after a dispute with townsfolk. The two ancient universities share many common features and are often jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.

    Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 semi-autonomous constituent colleges and over 150 academic departments, faculties and other institutions organized into six schools. All the colleges are self-governing institutions within the university, each controlling its own membership and with its own internal structure and activities. All students are members of a college. Cambridge does not have a main campus and its colleges and central facilities are scattered throughout the city. Undergraduate teaching at Cambridge is organized around weekly small-group supervisions in the colleges – a feature unique to the Oxbridge system. These are complemented by classes, lectures, seminars, laboratory work and occasionally further supervisions provided by the central university faculties and departments. Postgraduate teaching is provided predominantly centrally.

    Cambridge University Press a department of the university is the oldest university press in the world and currently the second largest university press in the world. Cambridge Assessment also a department of the university is one of the world’s leading examining bodies and provides assessment to over eight million learners globally every year. The university also operates eight cultural and scientific museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as a botanic garden. Cambridge’s libraries – of which there are 116 – hold a total of around 16 million books, around nine million of which are in Cambridge University Library, a legal deposit library. The university is home to – but independent of – the Cambridge Union – the world’s oldest debating society. The university is closely linked to the development of the high-tech business cluster known as “Silicon Fe”. It is the central member of Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre based around the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

    By both endowment size and consolidated assets Cambridge is the wealthiest university in the United Kingdom. In the fiscal year ending 31 July 2019, the central university – excluding colleges – had a total income of £2.192 billion of which £592.4 million was from research grants and contracts. At the end of the same financial year the central university and colleges together possessed a combined endowment of over £7.1 billion and overall consolidated net assets (excluding “immaterial” historical assets) of over £12.5 billion. It is a member of numerous associations and forms part of the ‘golden triangle’ of English universities.

    Cambridge has educated many notable alumni including eminent mathematicians; scientists; politicians; lawyers; philosophers; writers; actors; monarchs and other heads of state. As of October 2020, 121 Nobel laureates; 11 Fields Medalists; 7 Turing Award winners; and 14 British prime ministers have been affiliated with Cambridge as students; alumni; faculty or research staff. University alumni have won 194 Olympic medals.

    History

    By the late 12th century, the Cambridge area already had a scholarly and ecclesiastical reputation due to monks from the nearby bishopric church of Ely. However, it was an incident at Oxford which is most likely to have led to the establishment of the university: three Oxford scholars were hanged by the town authorities for the death of a woman without consulting the ecclesiastical authorities who would normally take precedence (and pardon the scholars) in such a case; but were at that time in conflict with King John. Fearing more violence from the townsfolk scholars from the University of Oxford started to move away to cities such as Paris; Reading; and Cambridge. Subsequently enough scholars remained in Cambridge to form the nucleus of a new university when it had become safe enough for academia to resume at Oxford. In order to claim precedence, it is common for Cambridge to trace its founding to the 1231 charter from Henry III granting it the right to discipline its own members (ius non-trahi extra) and an exemption from some taxes; Oxford was not granted similar rights until 1248.

    A bull in 1233 from Pope Gregory IX gave graduates from Cambridge the right to teach “everywhere in Christendom”. After Cambridge was described as a studium generale in a letter from Pope Nicholas IV in 1290 and confirmed as such in a bull by Pope John XXII in 1318 it became common for researchers from other European medieval universities to visit Cambridge to study or to give lecture courses.

    Foundation of the colleges

    The colleges at the University of Cambridge were originally an incidental feature of the system. No college is as old as the university itself. The colleges were endowed fellowships of scholars. There were also institutions without endowments called hostels. The hostels were gradually absorbed by the colleges over the centuries; but they have left some traces, such as the name of Garret Hostel Lane.

    Hugh Balsham, Bishop of Ely, founded Peterhouse – Cambridge’s first college in 1284. Many colleges were founded during the 14th and 15th centuries but colleges continued to be established until modern times. There was a gap of 204 years between the founding of Sidney Sussex in 1596 and that of Downing in 1800. The most recently established college is Robinson built in the late 1970s. However, Homerton College only achieved full university college status in March 2010 making it the newest full college (it was previously an “Approved Society” affiliated with the university).

    In medieval times many colleges were founded so that their members would pray for the souls of the founders and were often associated with chapels or abbeys. The colleges’ focus changed in 1536 with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry VIII ordered the university to disband its Faculty of Canon Law and to stop teaching “scholastic philosophy”. In response, colleges changed their curricula away from canon law and towards the classics; the Bible; and mathematics.

    Nearly a century later the university was at the centre of a Protestant schism. Many nobles, intellectuals and even commoners saw the ways of the Church of England as too similar to the Catholic Church and felt that it was used by the Crown to usurp the rightful powers of the counties. East Anglia was the centre of what became the Puritan movement. In Cambridge the movement was particularly strong at Emmanuel; St Catharine’s Hall; Sidney Sussex; and Christ’s College. They produced many “non-conformist” graduates who, greatly influenced by social position or preaching left for New England and especially the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the Great Migration decade of the 1630s. Oliver Cromwell, Parliamentary commander during the English Civil War and head of the English Commonwealth (1649–1660), attended Sidney Sussex.

    Modern period

    After the Cambridge University Act formalized the organizational structure of the university the study of many new subjects was introduced e.g. theology, history and modern languages. Resources necessary for new courses in the arts architecture and archaeology were donated by Viscount Fitzwilliam of Trinity College who also founded the Fitzwilliam Museum. In 1847 Prince Albert was elected Chancellor of the University of Cambridge after a close contest with the Earl of Powis. Albert used his position as Chancellor to campaign successfully for reformed and more modern university curricula, expanding the subjects taught beyond the traditional mathematics and classics to include modern history and the natural sciences. Between 1896 and 1902 Downing College sold part of its land to build the Downing Site with new scientific laboratories for anatomy, genetics, and Earth sciences. During the same period the New Museums Site was erected including the Cavendish Laboratory which has since moved to the West Cambridge Site and other departments for chemistry and medicine.

    The University of Cambridge began to award PhD degrees in the first third of the 20th century. The first Cambridge PhD in mathematics was awarded in 1924.

    In the First World War 13,878 members of the university served and 2,470 were killed. Teaching and the fees it earned came almost to a stop and severe financial difficulties followed. As a consequence, the university first received systematic state support in 1919 and a Royal Commission appointed in 1920 recommended that the university (but not the colleges) should receive an annual grant. Following the Second World War the university saw a rapid expansion of student numbers and available places; this was partly due to the success and popularity gained by many Cambridge scientists.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:46 pm on November 11, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Large MeerKAT data release reveals beautiful new cosmic puzzles", (SARAO)-South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, , , , , ,   

    From SKA South Africa (SA): “Large MeerKAT data release reveals beautiful new cosmic puzzles” 

    SKA South Africa


    From SKA South Africa (SA)

    11 November 2021

    An international team led by a young South African researcher has just announced a comprehensive overview paper for the MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey (MGCLS). The paper to be published in the Astronomy & Astrophysics journal presents some exciting, novel results, and is accompanied by the public release of a huge trove of curated data now available for astronomers worldwide to address a variety of challenging questions, such as those relating to the formation and evolution of galaxies throughout the universe.

    Using The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s MeerKAT telescope [below], located in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape province, this first observatory-led survey demonstrates MeerKAT’s exceptional strengths by producing highly detailed and sensitive images of the radio emission from 115 clusters of galaxies. The observations, amounting to approximately 1000 hours of telescope time, were done in the year following the inauguration of MeerKAT in 2018.

    “In those days we were still characterizing our new telescope, while developing further capabilities required by numerous scientists,” said Dr. Sharmila Goedhart, SARAO head of commissioning and science operations. “But we knew that MeerKAT was already very capable for studies of this sort, and we observed galaxy clusters as needed to fill gaps in the observing schedule.”

    This was only the start. More than two years of work followed to convert the raw data into radio images, using powerful computers, and to perform scientific analysis addressing a variety of topics. This was done by a large team of South African and international experts led by Dr. Kenda Knowles of Rhodes University (SA) and SARAO.

    1
    MeerKAT view of a complex network of radio filaments and diffuse structure, spanning more than half a million light-years, related to a galaxy affected by dynamical activity in the nearby galaxy cluster Abell 85. Adapted from K. Knowles et al., The MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey. I. Survey Overview and Highlights (Astronomy & Astrophysics, in press). Image credit: SARAO.

    The force of gravity has filled the expanding universe with objects extending over an astounding range of sizes, from comets that are 10 km (one thirty-thousandth of a light-second) across, to clusters of galaxies that can span 10 million light-years. These galaxy clusters are complex environments, host to thousands of galaxies, magnetic fields, and large regions – millions of light-years across – of extremely hot (millions of degrees) gas, electrons and protons moving close to the speed of light, and dark matter. Those ‘relativistic’ electrons, spiraling around the magnetic fields, produce the radio emission that MeerKAT can ‘see’ with unprecedented sensitivity, opening new horizons for the deeper understanding of these structures. Thus MeerKAT, particularly when adding information from optical and infrared and X-ray telescopes, is exceptionally well-suited to studying the interplay between the components that determine the evolution of galaxy clusters, the largest structures in the universe held together by gravity.

    We live in an ocean of air, but we can’t see it directly. However, if it’s filled with smoke or dust or water droplets, then suddenly we can see the gusts and swirls, whether they’re a gentle breeze or an approaching tornado. Similarly, the motions of the X-ray-glowing plasma in galaxy clusters are usually hidden from us. Radio emission from the sprinkling of relativistic electrons in this plasma can uncover the dramatic storms in clusters, stirred up when clusters collide with each other, or when jets of material spew out of supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies.

    The MGCLS paper just accepted for publication presents more than 50 newly discovered such patches of emission. Some of them we can understand and others remain a mystery, awaiting advances in our understanding of the physical behavior of cluster plasmas. A few examples are shown here, some associated with the bright emission from so-called ‘radio galaxies,’ powered by the jets of supermassive black holes. Others are isolated features, illuminating winds and intergalactic shock waves in the surrounding plasma. Other types of science enriched by the MGCLS include the regulation of star formation in galaxies, the physical processes of jet interactions, the study of faint cooler hydrogen gas – the fuel of stars – in a variety of environments, and yet unknown investigations to be facilitated by serendipitous discoveries.

    2
    The MGCLS has revealed several new systems hosting faint sources on large scales. Here we see radio evidence of a powerful merger taking place between two or more massive groups of gas and galaxies. These structures (a so-called ‘halo’ near the center and two ‘relics’ surrounding it are seen in the galaxy cluster MCXC J0352.4-7401) trace the positions and strengths of cosmic magnetic fields and electron populations travelling near the speed of light. This MeerKAT image spans approximately 10 million light-years at the distance of the cluster, and is sprinkled with point-like radio emission from even more distant Milky Way-like galaxies. Adapted from K. Knowles et al., The MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey. I. Survey Overview and Highlights (Astronomy & Astrophysics, in press). Image credit: SARAO.

    The MGCLS has produced detailed images of the extremely faint radio sky, while surveying a very large volume of space. “That’s what’s already enabled us to serendipitously discover rare kinds of galaxies, interactions, and diffuse features of radio emission, many of them quite beautiful,” explained Dr. Knowles. But this is only the beginning.

    A number of additional studies delving more deeply into some of the initial discoveries are already underway by members of the MGCLS team. Beyond that, the richness of the science resulting from the MGCLS is expected to grow over the coming years, as astronomers from around the world download the data from the SARAO MeerKAT archive, and probe it to answer their own questions.

    3
    Two giant radio galaxies (more than one million light-years from end to end) at the center of a large group of galaxies in the cluster Abell 194, revealing the presence of relatively narrow magnetic filaments in the region, as well as complex interactions between the radio emission from the two galaxies. The MeerKAT radio image is shown in orange, with an optical image dominated by normal galaxies shown in white. Adapted from K. Knowles et al., The MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey. I. Survey Overview and Highlights (Astronomy & Astrophysics, in press). Image credit: SARAO, SDSS.

    The Collaboration

    It takes more than a village to create this astronomical bonanza. MeerKAT, the South African SKA precursor that will be integrated into the SKA1-Mid telescope in the coming decade, was conceived, designed, and built over 15 years through the dedicated effort of hundreds of people in South African research organizations, industry, universities, and government. Some 100 of these colleagues that built, operate and maintain MeerKAT are co-authors of the MGCLS paper.

    A team of 40 South African and international scientists was involved in the detailed analysis that is presented in the paper and associated data release. They represent 19 institutions, including 10 in South Africa: The University of KwaZulu-Natal [Inyucesi YAKWAZULU_NATALI (SA), The Rhodes University (SA), SARAO – South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SA), The University of the Witwatersrand (SA), The University of Pretoria (SA), The University of Cape Town (SA),The North-West University (SA), The University of the Western Cape (SA), The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (SA), The Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (SA); The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (US), The University of Minnesota (US), The INAF Italian National Institute for Astrophysics [Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica] (IT), York University, The University of Hamburg [Universität Hamburg](DE), The University Of Nigeria [Nsukka](NRA), The Naval Research Laboratory (US), The Rhenish Friedrich Wilhelm University of Bonn[Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn](DE), La Sapienza University of Rome [Sapienza Università di Roma](IT).

    The Telescope and Observatory

    The MeerKAT telescope is operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is a facility of the National Research Foundation, an agency of the Department of Science and Innovation.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    SKA ASKAP Pathfinder Radio Telescope

    SKA SARAO Meerkat telescope , 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA.

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array (AU), Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), on the traditional lands of the Wajarri peoples.

    SKA Hera at SKA South Africa.

    SKA Pathfinder – LOFAR location at Potsdam via Google Images

    About SKA South Africa (SA)

    MeerKAT, originally the Karoo Array Telescope, is a radio telescope consisting of 64 antennas in the Northern Cape of South Africa. In 2003, South Africa submitted an expression of interest to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Telescope in Africa, and the locally designed and built MeerKAT was incorporated into the first phase of the SKA.

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Arraywill be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:48 pm on September 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The future of extraterrestrial intelligence", (SARAO)-South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, , , ,   

    From Curtin University (AU) : “The future of extraterrestrial intelligence” 

    From Curtin University (AU)

    3 September 2021

    1
    How would you feel if, after many decades of searching, we finally found signs of extraterrestrial intelligence?

    Would you be consumed by wonder and excitement, or does the thought of making contact with an unknown life force somewhere out there in the universe fill you with fear and trepidation?

    And what impact would this discovery have on us collectively – would it unite us or divide us here on Earth?

    “Maybe the search for extraterrestrials actually tells us more about ourselves than anything else,” says world-renowned astronomer and deputy executive director of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Professor Steven Tingay, who has been pondering these and other weighty existential questions in the course of his research.

    Tingay and his CSIRO colleague Dr Chenoa Tremblay have been involved in the deepest and broadest search yet for signs of alien life, thanks to the capabilities offered by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) – the highly sensitive, low frequency radio telescope with a fantastically wide field of view that is supporting a trove of new scientific endeavours from its whisper-quiet location in inland Western Australia.

    So far, no signals have been detected to suggest we are not alone. But with the MWA now allowing much-expanded searches to be conducted alongside other astrophysical investigations, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence – commonly referred to as SETI – is definitely ramping up.

    For example, it will no doubt add to fresh questions about our cosmic exclusivity generated by NASA’s latest mission to Mars, where the Perseverance rover is collecting rock and soil samples that will be probed for signs of ancient microbial life.

    In 2018, the MWA was used to scan part of the Vela constellation, known to cover at least 10 million star systems. Within this field are six known exoplanets: planets that orbit around other stars, like the Earth orbits around the Sun, that could potentially offer the right conditions for hosting life. Through this and two previous surveys, Tingay and Tremblay examined 75 known exoplanets, searching for narrow-band signals consistent with radio transmissions from intelligent civilisations, with a further 144 exoplanets examined in research to be published soon.

    Fortuitously, the MWA allows the search for extraterrestrial intelligence to piggyback onto science that is already taking place – offering, as Tingay describes it, “two bits of science for one”. As part of her PhD research, Chenoa was using the radio telescope to observe molecular signatures from stars, gas and dust in our galaxy in the hopes of detecting the complex molecules that are the precursor to life. The pair then realised that these data could be simultaneously used for the search for radio signals from advanced civilisations.

    “It’s a very high-return, low-effort route at this stage, which means that if you strike it lucky it hasn’t really cost you all that much along the way,” explains Tingay. “So that’s almost a perfect scenario for science.”

    So what exactly are they looking for in their MWA surveys?

    “We’re not one hundred per cent sure,” admits Tremblay.

    “It’s like asking a toddler to go and find an object in the house and they very excitedly go and run around and look under the couch and then come back with big eyes and go, ‘What does it look like?’

    “In general, we’re looking for intense signals that show up in very narrow wavelength ranges, and it could be anywhere within the electromagnetic spectrum. We use models from our understanding of the cosmos and what the signals have looked like so far to narrow down the search.

    While the 2018 survey was far more comprehensive than ever before, Tingay is keen to point out that it was still just a drop in the ocean.

    “Our galaxy contains billions and billions of stars, so 10 million out of multiple billions is a very small fraction,” he explains.

    “If that entire search space was represented by the Earth’s oceans, we’re talking about searching about a swimming pool’s worth of water out of the ocean. Having said that, what we did was a hundred times better than anyone had done previously – and the previous best was also us!

    “So what we’re doing is proving up techniques that will allow us to go further and deeper as we develop more powerful telescopes. And the next step in that progression is the Square Kilometre Array.”

    The MWA is effectively the warm-up act for the Square Kilometre Array, which has started its construction phase in Western Australia and South Africa, following more than a decade of design and engineering work by hundreds of experts from more than a dozen countries.

    [See MWA low frequency above]

    This global mega science project will deliver the two largest and most complex networks of radio telescopes ever built, designed to unlock some of the most fascinating secrets of our Universe – and it no doubt has SETI enthusiasts very, very excited.

    Asked to sum up his own reaction should this new frontier of astronomy confirm signs of extraterrestrial intelligence sometime soon, Tingay is quick to respond: “I’ll rush to the telescope to get more data!”
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    The MWA, SKA and SARAO are not alone in the search for E.T.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    SKA SARAO Meerkat telescope(SA) 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA.

    Newly added

    University of Arizona Veritas Four Čerenkov telescopes A novel gamma ray telescope under construction at the CfA Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (US), Mount Hopkins, Arizona (US), altitude 2,606 m 8,550 ft. A large project known as the Čerenkov Telescope Array, composed of hundreds of similar telescopes to be situated at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias ](ES) in the Canary Islands and Chile at European Southern Observatory Cerro Paranal(EU) site. The telescope on Mount Hopkins will be fitted with a prototype high-speed camera, assembled at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (US) and capable of taking pictures at a billion frames per second. Credit: Vladimir Vassiliev. _____________________________________________________________________________________

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Curtin University (AU) (formerly known as Curtin University of Technology and Western Australian Institute of Technology) is an Australian public research university based in Bentley and Perth, Western Australia. The university is named after the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin, and is the largest university in Western Australia, with over 58,000 students (as of 2016).

    Curtin would like to pay respect to the indigenous members of our community by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which the Perth campus is located, the Wadjuk people of the Nyungar Nation; and on our Kalgoorlie campus, the Wongutha people of the North-Eastern Goldfields.

    Curtin was conferred university status after legislation was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in 1986. Since then, the university has been expanding its presence and has campuses in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and Mauritius. It has ties with 90 exchange universities in 20 countries. The University comprises five main faculties with over 95 specialists centres. The University formerly had a Sydney campus between 2005 & 2016. On 17 September 2015, Curtin University Council made a decision to close its Sydney campus by early 2017.

    Curtin University is a member of Australian Technology Network (ATN), and is active in research in a range of academic and practical fields, including Resources and Energy (e.g., petroleum gas), Information and Communication, Health, Ageing and Well-being (Public Health), Communities and Changing Environments, Growth and Prosperity and Creative Writing.

    It is the only Western Australian university to produce a PhD recipient of the AINSE gold medal, which is the highest recognition for PhD-level research excellence in Australia and New Zealand.

    Curtin has become active in research and partnerships overseas, particularly in mainland China. It is involved in a number of business, management, and research projects, particularly in supercomputing, where the university participates in a tri-continental array with nodes in Perth, Beijing, and Edinburgh. Western Australia has become an important exporter of minerals, petroleum and natural gas. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Woodside-funded hydrocarbon research facility during his visit to Australia in 2005.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:45 pm on July 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "MeerKAT discovers large gas-rich galaxy group hiding in plain sight", (SARAO)-South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, , , , , SKA South Africa (SA0)   

    From SARAO – SKA South Africa via SKA South Africa (SA): “MeerKAT discovers large gas-rich galaxy group hiding in plain sight” 

    SKA South Africa


    6 July 2021

    From SARAO-South African Radio Astronomy Observatory via SKA South Africa (SA)

    3
    South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope. Credit: SARAO

    A group of 20 galaxies has been discovered with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope. This large galaxy group is likely the most neutral hydrogen gas-rich group ever discovered, and it is the first time this group has been identified, despite residing in a very well-studied area of the sky.

    1
    Credit: Shilpa Ranchod/MIGHTEE/HSC project): Optical image of the galaxy group with 3-colour optical images of each member galaxy using data from the Hyper-Suprime Camera on the Subaru telescope. The red outline indicates the extent of the neutral hydrogen gas around each galaxy. The central image, also showing the many thousands of background galaxies, is one degree on each side, large enough to fit four full moons.

    Most star-forming galaxies are embedded within a cloud of cold neutral hydrogen gas, which acts as the raw fuel from which stars can eventually form. This gas is extremely faint, and can only be detected in radio wavelengths. It is diffuse, and extends beyond the visible part of the galaxy. By observing this hydrogen gas, astronomers are able to understand the evolutionary processes that take place in galaxies.

    The majority of galaxies in the Universe reside in groups. However, it is rare to detect a group with such a large number of group members with so much neutral hydrogen. This suggests that the group is still in the process of assembly, as it has not undergone evolutionary processes that would remove this gas from the galaxies.

    The paper was led by Shilpa Ranchod, an MSc student supervised by Prof. Roger Deane at the University of Pretoria. “The distribution of neutral hydrogen gas in these galaxies has revealed interesting, disturbed morphologies suggesting that these galaxies are group members, and are being influenced by their cosmic neighbours in the group”, notes Ranchod. “For example, we found an interacting pair of galaxies that will potentially merge to form a new galaxy with a completely transformed appearance.”

    This galaxy group was discovered by the MeerKAT International Gigahertz Tiered Extragalactic Exploration (MIGHTEE) survey. It is one of the large survey projects in progress with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope and involves a team of South African and international astronomers.

    The MeerKAT radio telescope in the Northern Cape, South Africa’s precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), aims to answer fundamental questions about the formation and evolution of galaxies. Its exceptional sensitivity provides astronomers with further insight into the drivers of galaxy evolution.

    Dr Natasha Maddox, research scientist at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München](DE), and co-chair of the MIGHTEE neutral hydrogen working group said, “This galaxy group sits in an area of sky that has been studied with many other telescopes, but only with MeerKAT is the group structure revealed so clearly. Galaxy environment strongly affects how galaxies change and grow, and observations of neutral hydrogen with MeerKAT give us a new observational window into structures like this.”

    Dr Bradley Frank, SARAO’s associate director of astronomy operations at the Inter-university Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (SA) and co-chair of the MIGHTEE neutral hydrogen working group said, “This discovery really highlights that MeerKAT is an amazing instrument. MeerKAT’s large field-of-view, wide bandwidth, coupled with excellent sensitivity and resolving power makes it a premium survey instrument, allowing us to conduct a census of galaxies in a variety of environments. MeerKAT is an important step in the direction of the SKA — providing us with a view to future SKA science projects and lessons on how to overcome the many technical challenges involved in realising the true scientific potential of SKA and SKA pathfinders.”

    Dr Anastasia Ponomareva, researcher at the University of Oxford (UK) and co-author of the paper said, “This discovery shows that our MeerKAT observations caught a galaxy group in the early stages of its assembly, which is very uncommon. Therefore, this discovery is not only important per se, but will set new grounds for understanding of how galaxies are assembled into groups and transformed by their environment. We expect many wonderful findings like this in the future, thanks to the ongoing MeerKAT surveys.”

    This discovery has been published in the MNRAS.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)


    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array

    SKA Hera at SKA South Africa

    SKA Pathfinder – LOFAR location at Potsdam via Google Images

    About SKA South Africa (SA)

    MeerKAT, originally the Karoo Array Telescope, is a radio telescope consisting of 64 antennas in the Northern Cape of South Africa. In 2003, South Africa submitted an expression of interest to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Telescope in Africa, and the locally designed and built MeerKAT was incorporated into the first phase of the SKA.

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Arraywill be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:44 pm on May 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How scientists are tuning in to the universe-man", , (SARAO)-South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, , , , , , ,   

    From Curtin University (AU) via phys.org : “How scientists are tuning in to the universe-man” 

    From Curtin University (AU)

    via

    phys.org

    May 13, 2021

    1
    An artist’s impression of a pulsar. Credit: International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research /Curtin University (AU)

    You’re driving down the freeway listening to the radio, but you’re getting static. Enjoy it. That’s the sounds of the universe.

    You’re driving down the freeway listening to the radio. Unfortunately, the radio is picking up some static. Sounds a bit rough, doesn’t it?

    It may surprise you to learn that static is actually the grand opera of the universe—stars, pulsars, galaxies—all of which blast out radio waves and have been doing so for billions of years.

    Yup, the car radio in your 2002 Honda Civic is tuned in to the universe, man.

    But while we all may be able to tune in to Cosmic FM, not all of us can make sense of the noise.

    That’s where Professor Steven Tingay comes in. He’s the Executive Director of the Curtin University CIRA Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy (AU) at Curtin University and Deputy Executive Director at the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (AU), a joint venture between Curtin University and the University of Western Australia (AU). And his team has found some pretty cool stuff in that static.

    Turning the cosmic dial

    Using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope, a cutting-edge radio astronomy tech, Steven’s team has discovered a pulsar—a dense and rapidly spinning neutron star that pulses radio waves out into the universe.

    While this is the first pulsar detected by the MWA, which is situated in Western Australia’s remote Mid-West region, it’s sure to not be the last. Indeed, this find shows how many of today’s great discoveries aren’t made by traveling to new worlds but by just listening to what’s already around us.

    As Steven explains, “Each MWA antenna receives radio waves from all parts of the sky—all objects simultaneously, 24/7.

    Yet you may be wondering, if your car radio can pick up radio waves from the universe, what makes the MWA so cutting edge?

    Chunky data

    Tuning in to Cosmic FM is only the first step. The hard part is crunching the numbers.

    2
    One of 256 tiles of the SKA Murchison Widefield Array (AU) (MWA) radio telescope. Credit: Pete Wheeler, ICRAR

    “Once the MWA collects data, you need to process those data in different ways to extract different bits of information about different objects,” says Steven.

    “We can turn the radio waves into an enormously rich dataset, and you can process those data in lots of different ways to learn different things … as long as you can afford the computing power.”

    Indeed, if there is something limiting radio astronomers, it’s not their ability to pick up information. It’s the ability of computers to actually process the huge amounts of data.

    So far, the MWA has collected about 40 petabytes of data—that’s equivalent to 40 million gigabytes. And if you thought that was big, say hello to the Square Kilometer Array (SKA)


    Hip to be square

    One of the largest scientific endeavors in history, the SKA is a telescope with a lens of—you guessed it—a square kilometer. Although, importantly, it’s not one lens. It’s thousands of tiny lenses scattered across the world, from high-frequency dishes in South Africa to smaller low-frequency antennas in WA.


    “The MWA is comprised of 4000 individual antennas in WA, whereas the SKA will be comprised of more than 130,000 individual antennas in WA spread out over 120km.”

    “The SKA will be much more sensitive than the MWA and will be able to make images in much finer detail.”

    “MWA is 1% of what the SKA will be.”

    The final frontier

    That’s going to be a lot of data to crunch, but Steven is looking forward to using this incredible tool to ‘explore’ the last unexplored epoch in the universe’s evolution: its first billion years.

    “Within that first billion years, the first generation of stars and galaxies formed, setting the scene for the evolution of the universe.”

    Unlocking the mysteries of the first billion years of the universe? Let’s see your 2002 Honda Civic do that!

    So next time you’re driving down the freeway and can’t quite tune in to the cricket, just sit and enjoy the static for a moment. You’re listening to the biggest radio show in the universe, and it’s all about how we got here.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Curtin University (AU) (formerly known as Curtin University of Technology and Western Australian Institute of Technology) is an Australian public research university based in Bentley and Perth, Western Australia. The university is named after the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin, and is the largest university in Western Australia, with over 58,000 students (as of 2016).

    Curtin would like to pay respect to the indigenous members of our community by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which the Perth campus is located, the Wadjuk people of the Nyungar Nation; and on our Kalgoorlie campus, the Wongutha people of the North-Eastern Goldfields.

    Curtin was conferred university status after legislation was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in 1986. Since then, the university has been expanding its presence and has campuses in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and Mauritius. It has ties with 90 exchange universities in 20 countries. The University comprises five main faculties with over 95 specialists centres. The University formerly had a Sydney campus between 2005 & 2016. On 17 September 2015, Curtin University Council made a decision to close its Sydney campus by early 2017.

    Curtin University is a member of Australian Technology Network (ATN), and is active in research in a range of academic and practical fields, including Resources and Energy (e.g., petroleum gas), Information and Communication, Health, Ageing and Well-being (Public Health), Communities and Changing Environments, Growth and Prosperity and Creative Writing.

    It is the only Western Australian university to produce a PhD recipient of the AINSE gold medal, which is the highest recognition for PhD-level research excellence in Australia and New Zealand.

    Curtin has become active in research and partnerships overseas, particularly in mainland China. It is involved in a number of business, management, and research projects, particularly in supercomputing, where the university participates in a tri-continental array with nodes in Perth, Beijing, and Edinburgh. Western Australia has become an important exporter of minerals, petroleum and natural gas. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Woodside-funded hydrocarbon research facility during his visit to Australia in 2005.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:47 am on February 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (SARAO)-South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, A massive $54 million expansion, , , , , Germany’s Max Planck Society, , ,   

    From Science Magazine: “This powerful observatory studying the formation of galaxies is getting a massive, $54 million expansion” 

    From Science Magazine

    Feb. 7, 2020
    Sarah Wild

    South Africa’s 64-dish MeerKAT telescope is set to grow by almost one-third, significantly increasing its sensitivity and ability to image the far reaches of the universe. The 20 new dishes come with a $54 million price tag, to be split evenly between the South African government and Germany’s Max Planck Society.

    1
    MeerKAT, which will get 20 new dishes by 2022, will eventually become part of the Square Kilometre Array, which will be the largest radio telescope in the world. South African Radio Astronomy Observatory


    SKA Square Kilometer Array


    SKA South Africa

    MeerKAT, a midfrequency dish array, is already the most sensitive telescope of its kind in the world [Nature]. Since its inauguration in 2018, it has captured the most detailed radio image of the center of the Milky Way and discovered giant radiation bubbles [Nature] within it.

    “The extended MeerKAT will be an even more powerful telescope to study the formation and evolution of galaxies throughout the history of the universe,” says Fernando Camilo, chief scientist at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO). Francisco Colomer, director of the Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry European Research Infrastructure Consortium, says the expansion will “enhance an already impressive instrument.” The new dishes will have a slightly different design from the existing ones and a diameter of 15 meters instead of 13.5 meters.

    MeerKAT will eventually be folded into the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be the largest radio telescope in the world; the new dishes, scheduled to come online in 2022, are designed to be part of SKA, says Rob Adam, SARAO’s managing director. SKA will comprise thousands of dishes across Africa and 1 million antennas in Australia and have a collecting area of 1 square kilometer, allowing scientists to look at the universe in unprecedented detail and investigate what happened immediately after the big bang, how galaxies form, and the nature of dark matter.

    SKA is now trying to attract funding and new partners for the project, whose initial phase is set to cost about $1 billion. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2021 [Nature]. SKA data may not be available to astronomers until the end of the decade; the expansion of MeerKAT will allow the astronomical community to stay busy in the meantime, Colomer says.

    South Africa’s contribution to MeerKAT will be counted toward the country’s pledge for the first phase of SKA, Adam says. Germany’s relationship with SKA is complicated. The country was a member of the SKA Organisation, tasked with overseeing the design phase of the telescope, but pulled out in 2014. The Max Planck Society rejoined the organization last year, but Germany isn’t among the seven member countries that signed a treaty to actually establish the SKA Observatory in August 2019. If it decides to join that group, the German funding for MeerKAT will also count toward the country’s contribution, Adam says.

    The additional dishes will increase MeerKAT’s computing requirements by an order of magnitude, but Adams says the extension coincides with a planned update to the telescope’s hardware that capitalizes on advances in computer technology.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
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