Arecibo radiotelescope made incredibly more sensitive
The Arecibo Observatory telescope, the largest and most sensitive single dish radio telescope in the world, is about to get a good deal more sensitive
As morning mist blankets the Puerto Rico hills, workers prepare to bring the ALFA unit (hanging from a cable at the left) into the Arecibo telescopes Gregorian dome. Tony Acevedo/Arecibo ObservatoryCopyright © Cornell University
Today (Wednesday, April 21) the telescope got a new "eye on the sky" that will turn the huge dish, operated by Cornell University for the National Science Foundation, into the equivalent of a seven-pixel radio camera.
The complex new addition to the Arecibo telescope was hauled 150 meters (492 feet) above the telescopes 1,000-foot-diameter (305 meters) reflector dish starting in the early morning hours. The device, the size of a washing machine, took 30 minutes to reach a platform inside the suspended Gregorian dome, where ultimately it will be cooled and then connected to a fiber optic transmission system leading to ultra-high speed digital signal processors. The new instrument is called ALFA (for Arecibo L-Band Feed Array) and is essentially a camera for making radio pictures of the sky. ALFA will conduct large-scale sky surveys with unprecedented sensitivity, enabling astronomers to collect data about seven times faster than at present, giving the telescope an even broader appeal to astronomers.
The ALFA receiver was built by the Australian research group, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, under contract to the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC) at Cornell, in Ithaca, N.Y. Development of ALFA was overseen by the observatorys technical staff. The rest of the ALFA system, including ultra-fast data processing machines, are under development at NAIC.
Radio telescopes traditionally have been limited to seeing just one spot -- a single pixel -- on the sky at once. Pictures of the sky have been built up by painstakingly imaging one spot after another. But ALFA lets the telescope see seven spots -- seven pixels -- on the sky at once, slashing the time needed to make all-sky surveys. Steve Torchinsky, ALFA project manager at Arecibo Observatory, says the new device will make it possible to find many new fast-spinning, highly dense stars called pulsars and will improve the chances of picking up very rare kinds of systems -- for instance, a pulsar orbiting a black hole.
It also will map the neutral hydrogen gas in our galaxy, the Milky Way, as well as in other galaxies. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. "A whole range of science is planned for ALFA, " says Torchinsky. "Arecibos large collecting area is particularly well-suited to pulsar studies."
NAIC commissioned CSIRO to build ALFA following the success of a ground-breaking "multibeam" instrument it had designed and built for the Parkes radio telescope in eastern Australia. That instrument increased the Parkes telescopes view 13-fold, making it practical for the first time to search the whole sky for faint and hidden galaxies.
David Brand | Cornell News
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...