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‘Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest radio telescope’

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    9th Feb, 2021

The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Council held its maiden meeting and approved the establishment of the world’s largest radio telescope.

Context

The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Council held its maiden meeting and approved the establishment of the world’s largest radio telescope.

About

Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO)

  • SKAO is a new intergovernmental organisation dedicated to radio astronomy.
  • Headquarters: The United Kingdom.
  • Countries involved: At the moment, organisations from ten countries are a part of the SKAO. These include Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK.

The proposed telescope

  • The telescope, proposed to be the largest radio telescope in the world, will be located in Africa and Australia whose operation, maintenance and construction will be overseen by SKAO.
  • The completion is expected to take nearly a decade at a cost of over £1.8 billion.
  • As per NASA, the telescope will accomplish its scientific goals by measuring neutral hydrogen over cosmic time, accurately timing the signals from pulsars in the Milky Way, and detecting millions of galaxies out to high redshifts.
  • Some of the questions that scientists hope to address using this telescope include:
    • the beginning of the universe
    • how and when the first stars were born
    • the life-cycle of a galaxy
    • exploring the possibility of detecting technologically-active civilisations elsewhere in our galaxy
    • understanding where gravitational waves come from

About Radio telescopes

  • Unlike optical telescopes, radio telescopes can detect invisible gas and, therefore, they can reveal areas of space that may be obscured by cosmic dust.
  • Significantly, since the first radio signals were detected by physicist Karl Jansky in the 1930s, astronomers have used radio telescopes to detect radio waves emitted by different objects in the universe and explore it.
  • According to NASA, the field of radio astronomy evolved after World War II and became one of the most important tools for making astronomical observations since.
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