Construction of the world’s largest radio telescope begins, with a total cost of 2 billion euros

Tram Ho

According to the latest reports, the world’s largest radio telescope has officially entered the construction phase in Australia. Called the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), its name reflects the scientists’ original goal of creating a surface that collects radio waves up to the square kilometer scale. However, the actual SKA will have a signal collection area of ​​half a square kilometer.

Essentially, this intercontinental telescope system will be a combination of nearly 200 large antenna dishes located in the Karoo desert of South Africa and a cluster of more than 130,000 Christmas tree-shaped antennas placed deep. in a remote area of ​​Western Australia. The traditional antenna dish system will operate with radio signals at frequencies between 350 megahertz and 14 gigahertz, while the antenna “pine trees” to be built will be sensitive to radio frequency signals. low numbers, from 50 – 350 megahertz.

Kính viễn vọng vô tuyến lớn nhất thế giới bắt đầu được xây dựng, tổng kinh phí 2 tỷ Euro - Ảnh 1.

Drawings of the SKA system in South Africa (left) and in Australia (right)

Referred to as the “Giant Eye of the World”, SKA is the world’s largest synthetic aperture radio telescope built and operated by a multinational joint venture. Its purpose is to discover the origin of the universe, study the evolution of galaxies, understand the structure of the universe and the properties of dark matter and dark energy. It is estimated that the total final construction budget of the project will amount to 2 billion euros, and the cost currently spent is close to 500 million euros. SKA will be completed and expected to go into operation by the end of this decade.

Radio telescopes need to be away from any artificial radio waves to be able to focus on long wavelengths from deep space. That is why parts of the SKA must be placed in such a shabby place.

Of course, building huge scientific instruments in the wilderness is no easy feat. In Australia, ants can nest in circuit boards, and termites like to build tall nests around telescope antennas. The kangaroos sometimes kick at the man-made tools they see, and the giant lizards love to circle the radios as if they were their owners.

Kính viễn vọng vô tuyến lớn nhất thế giới bắt đầu được xây dựng, tổng kinh phí 2 tỷ Euro - Ảnh 2.

A composite image to compare the planned SKA antenna dishes (left) and the completed MeerKAT project dishes (right) in South Africa.

In South Africa, the predecessor project of SKA named MeerKAT was built. MeerKAT captured a stunning image of the so-called ‘cosmic thread’ at the center of the galaxy. But now that the core parts of the new SKA are built, the results promise to be even more impressive.

Because larger telescope systems often yield information with better detail, and that’s why scientists are getting excited around the world’s largest radio telescope project. this.

Danny Price, a senior researcher at the Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy, said: “To describe the sensitivity of SKAs, you can imagine them being able to detect cell phone signals in an astronaut’s pocket. on Mars, which is 225 million kilometers away.”

In other words, if there was a planet orbiting a star several dozen light-years from Earth. On that planet there is an airport, on the airport there is a radar, then the SKA system can detect this radar.

Kính viễn vọng vô tuyến lớn nhất thế giới bắt đầu được xây dựng, tổng kinh phí 2 tỷ Euro - Ảnh 3.

Illustration of the pine tree antenna system to be built in Western Australia.

Current data show that SKA’s sensitivity may be eight times that of existing similar telescopes, while its sky-scanning speed is 135 times faster than similar telescopes.

SKA will observe large compact objects such as pulsars and black holes, to help better understand gravitational waves, as well as the reionization era, the period when galaxies and stars first appeared. as well as the first billion years of the universe.

Meanwhile, the James Webb space telescope is also observing some of the earliest light produced in the universe. But it does observe at infrared and near-infrared wavelengths, rather than at the longer radio wavelengths of SKA.

Combining these advanced observatories with newly established space missions, we will be able to better understand the mysterious universe around us and promise many new discoveries in the field of physics. astronomy in the coming years.

See Gizmodo, AFP

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Source : Genk