Murchison telescope goes live in outback WA

A powerful new telescope aims to detect solar storms and offer glimpses into the early universe. ASTRONOMERS ARE PREPARING for a wave of revelations, following the launch of the $51 million Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in Western Australia this week. The MWA, which was officially opened on Tuesday, is part of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in a remote part of the state's mid-west, where radio frequency interference is almost non-existent. The MWA is a precursor to the $2 billion international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio astronomy project. It comprises 2048 antennas that capture low frequency radio waves – some more than 13 billion years old – allowing scientists to image the first stars and galaxies to form after the Big Bang. New telescope the ‘frontier of astronomical science' The MWA will also step up observations of the Sun to detect and monitor massive solar storms, offering an early warning system that could save billions of dollars for countries threatened with a loss of power. Another MWA program will investigate the possibility that stray FM radio signals can be used to track dangerous space debris. "Each of these programs has the potential to change our understanding about the universe," says Professor Steven Tingay, MWA director and a radio astronomer at Curtin University in Perth. "Right now we are standing at the frontier of astronomical science." The low-frequency portion of the SKA will eventually have 2.5 million antennas, but in the meantime, the much smaller MWA is already producing breathtaking insights.Read More...


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