When complete, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) will be the largest radio telescope array in the entire world. The result of decades of work involving 40 institutions in 11 countries, the SKA will allow astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey it much faster than with any system currently in existence.
Aerial image of the South African MeerKAT radio telescope, part of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). Credit: SKA
Antennas of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder with the Milky Way overhead. Credit: Alex Cherney/CSIRO
The Engineering Development Array from ICRAR on Vimeo.
The Engineering Development Array (EDA) is a separate telescope designed and built by Curtin University. It is a single field-node of 256 antennas, replicating the proposed antenna layout of the SKA-low field nodes, but using Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) dipole antennas. Data taken from the EDA is compared and correlated against the MWA.
As the MWA antennas have already been thoroughly characterised, the EDA helps us understand how a larger group of randomly spread antennas can be expected to perform in the given layout.
The First Image from the new Meer Kat Observatory
Although radio astronomy has been around since the 1930s, it is only in recent years that astronomers have been able to make high-resolution maps of the radio sky. Sky maps are difficult for radio telescopes because radio antennas need to be focused on an extremely small patch of sky to capture images in high resolution. But with modern antennas and computer processing, we can now scan the sky quickly enough to map the heavens in a reasonable amount of time.
A radio view of the elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. Credit: CSIRO
A few of the objects captured by RACS. Credit: CSRIO
Located in the Northern Cape of South Africa, the MeerKAT telescope consists of 64 powerful radio antennas dedicated to probing the mysteries of the Universe. This facility is a precursor to the future Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO), which will consist of MeerKAT and the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) in South Africa and the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Australia. A primary aim of the SKAO is to understand the matter content of the Universe and what mechanisms are driving its evolution and expansion.
A ‘radio color’ view of the sky above the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope. Credit: Natasha Hurley-Walker (ICRAR/Curtin), GLEAM Team; ICRAR/Dr. John Goldsmith/Celestial Visions
Composite image of the SKA combining all elements in South Africa and Australia. Credit: SKAO