Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Australia and Southern Africa Short-Listed for Giant Radio Telescope

Australia and Southern Africa have been short-listed as the countries to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a giant next-generation radio telescope being developed by scientists in 17 countries.

The decision was made by the International SKA Steering Committee, following advice from an external committee of 7 scientists from 5 countries that examined the four site bids.

“Both Australia and Southern Africa can meet the full range of requirements for the SKA,” said Prof. Richard Schilizzi, International SKA Project Director, in announcing the decision today in Dwingeloo, The Netherlands.

The SKA will be a set of thousands of antennas, not a single giant instrument, spread over 3,000 km, but with half of the antennas located in a central region 5 km across. The SKA will be 50 times more sensitive than the most powerful radio telescopes we now have.

It will peer deep into the cosmos to pick up signs of the first stars and galaxies to form after the Big Bang; it will trace the effects of the mysterious Dark Energy that is driving the Universe apart at an ever increasing speed; and it will map out the influence of magnetic fields on the development of stars and galaxies.

Observations of pulsars will allow the SKA to look for the effects of gravitational waves from merging massive black-holes at the centres of other galaxies. If there are extra-terrestrial intelligences out there in the Milky Way with airport or ionospheric radars, the SKA will detect them.

For Australia, the core site is proposed to be at Mileura station, about 100 km west of Meekathara in Western Australia. Other dishes would be distributed over the Australian continent with the possibility of extension into New Zealand.

In Southern Africa, the central location would be at the Karoo site in the Northern Cape region of South Africa, about 95 km from Carnarvon, with further dishes located in South Africa itself and in neighbouring African countries - Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Madagasgar, Mauritius, Kenya, and Ghana.

A key requirement of the core site is that there must be a very low level of man-made radio signals, because interference will mask the faint cosmic radio waves the telescope is designed to detect.

“Furthermore, South Africa and Australia are both making excellent progress towards protecting these unique environments with radio-quiet zones that will limit the use of radio transmitting equipment,” said Prof. Phil Diamond, past-chair of the International SKA Steering Committee.

Both the Australian and Southern African sites can see much of the same sky as other major ground-based optical, infrared and sub-millimetre telescopes and both have a good view of the southern sky, which is where the centre of our Galaxy goes overhead. Both also have stable ionospheric conditions, which is important for the low-frequency observations the SKA will make.

China and Argentina/Brazil also bid to host the SKA. Both sites were also considered exceptional sites for radio astronomy, but failed to meet at least one of the broad range of exacting requirements for the Square Kilometre Array. The proposed Chinese site would place unacceptable restrictions on the placement of the central elements of the SKA and the joint Argentinian / Brazilian proposal was eliminated because the ionospheric conditions above South America would limit the SKA’s performance at low frequencies.

Further analysis of the short-listed sites will now be carried out, with the final decision about which of the two sites will host the SKA expected towards the end of the decade.

Professor Philip Diamond | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma
28.10.2016 | American Physical Society

nachricht Scientists measure how ions bombard fusion device walls
28.10.2016 | American Physical Society

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: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>