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  • 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), Murchison Widefield Array (AU),   

    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 .

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    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, , , , , ICRAR-International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (AU), , ,   

    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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