Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Opening the African Sky

02.12.2014

A new receiver project of MPIfR in Bonn has received full funding by MPG. The frequency range 1.6 to 3.5 GHz can only be observed under significant sensitivity losses in Effelsberg due to man-made radio emission.

Thus the MeerKAT observatory in South Africa, has been chosen as a host for this receiver system. MeerKAT will be the most sensitive observatory of the southern hemisphere in centimetre wavelengths. Thanks to its unique location, MeerKAT is hardly influenced by interference. The 11 Million Euro project will not only grant Max Planck scientists access to a world-class facility but also extend the frequency range for all scientists and thus empower MeerKATs scientific potential.


Radio image at 408 MHz with overlaid pulsar positions (black dots). The new receivers will search the area shown by the black box for unusual pulsar systems, laboratories for fundamental physics.

redits: MPIfR, Haslam et al. 1982 (Radio Image); MPIfR, Cherry Ng (pulsar positions)


MeerKAT antenna and the night sky.

SKA South Africa (Picture taken in March 2014)

Radio astronomy provides an independent view of the cosmos. It allows the study of objects and processes that are otherwise not accessible, and enables the study of a wide range of questions in fundamental physics and astrophysics.

The discovery space is mostly limited by the sensitivity of the radio telescopes, but other factors like sky access, time and frequency resolution, throughput (or “survey speed”) and complementarity to existing facilities, are hugely important factors. Currently, major efforts are underway to make progress on all these factors. An upfront development is provided by the MeerKAT observatory in South Africa. When completed it will already be a world-class facility in stand-alone mode.

MeerKAT will even be more sensitive than the largest fully-steerable radio telescopes in the Northern hemisphere, the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. In addition, it will provide a spatial resolution comparable to an 8 km diameter telescope. The science potential of MeerKAT is therefore enormous.

“The MeerKAT receiver project at our institute provides a receiving system that is finely tuned to the science interests of Max Planck scientists”, says Gundolf Wieching, head of the Electronics division at MPIfR where the new receiver will be built. “This will allow us to exploit this formidable new instrument and to bring Max Planck scientists to an optimal position to harness other future facilities.”

The funded receiver for a frequency range from 1.6 to 3.5 GHz will enable science that falls into the core interests of the MPIfR. “Our research interests include fundamental physics with tests of theories of gravity and gravitational wave detection by means of pulsar observations”, states Michael Kramer, Director at MPIfR and Head of its Fundamental Physics research department.

“The project is actually expected to do transformational science on pulsars and other areas of astronomy.” Other areas include the exploration of the dynamic radio sky, for example with the detection of fast cosmological radio bursts, and also highly sensitive molecular spectroscopy of the interstellar medium or high-resolution imaging of radio sources using Very Long Baseline Interferometry. Each of these science topics alone makes the exploitation of MeerKAT extremely desirable, but together they provide the most compelling background for an excellent positioning of Max Planck scientists in this highly active research field.

In addition to providing the frontend, the complete project also includes the design and the construction of a state-of-the-art digital backend system which will turn MeerKAT into a discovery machine for pulsars and other time-domain phenomena. The receiver system will be designed and constructed by the MPIfR in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Manchester and Oxford “The investment is an endorsement of the excellence of the MeerKAT and the South African team which designed and is building it”, concludes Bernie Fanaroff, Director of the SKA South Africa project. “We welcome the strong and growing collaboration between South African and German scientists in astronomy.”

The MPIfR MeerKAT Receiver will provide a receiving system, i.e. a frontend plus a backend system for time-domain processing. The detection frequency covers a range from 1.6 to 3.5 GHz, it is a dual polarization system with an analogue to digital converter stability below one pico second (10-12 s, this is equivalent to a light travel distance less than 0.3 mm)

The continuous data rate of 5.5 TeraBit/sec (1 TeraBit = 1012 Bit) is equivalent to the content of 147 DVDs per second or 0.5 million DVDs per hour. With such a huge amount of data they have to be reduced online, requiring a calculation power of several PetaOps (1015 operations per second). These highly demanding requirements will lead to new technological developments also useful for future instrumentations beyond the scope of radio astronomy.

MeerKAT is a fully funded radio observatory under construction in the Northern Cape of South Africa. It will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the Southern hemisphere until its integration into the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in the middle of the next decade. MeerKAT will consist of 64 13.5-m dishes, each with an offset-Gregorian configuration, designed by the German VERTEX company. Such configuration provides an unblocked aperture for increased sensitivity but also facilitating optical, imaging quality and good rejection of unwanted radio frequency interference from satellites and terrestrial transmitters. When completed, MeerKAT will be nearly 5-times more sensitive than the 64-m Parkes radio telescope, the largest radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere now.

Contact:

Dr. Gundolf Wieching,
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Phone: +49-228-525-175
E-mail: wieching@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Prof. Dr. Michael Kramer,
Director and Head of Research Department „Fundamental Physics in Radio Astronomy“
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Phone: +49-228-525-278
E-mail: mkramer@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Dr. Norbert Junkes
Press and Public Outreach
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Phone: +49 228 525-399
Email: njunkes@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de


Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/announcements/2014/6

Norbert Junkes | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>