The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

First antennas erected for super radio telescope “SKA” in Australia

Updated at 07 Mar 2024 6:31 am

Astronomers have come another step closer to uncovering the secrets of the cosmos: As part of the billion-dollar "Square Kilometre Array" (SKA) project, the installation of the first of a total of 130,000 dipole antennas for low frequencies began on Thursday in the outback of Western Australia, according to a statement from the SKA Observatory. The antennas, which look like two-meter Christmas trees, will later be connected to radio telescopes in South Africa's Karoo semi-desert for the medium-frequency field. The two telescopes are called "SKA-Low" and "SKA-Mid".

Both regions are very sparsely populated, so that there are hardly any disturbing influences when observing space. In future, the instruments will be used to investigate some of the most mysterious phenomena in space - such as the cosmic web of dark matter, the formation of galaxies and the expansion of the universe. Above all, however, SKA's extreme sensitivity will enable it to pick up radio signals at huge distances - and thus possibly provide an answer to the question of extraterrestrial life.

Sixteen countries, including Germany and Switzerland, are involved in this gigantic project. Astronomers hope above all to gain new insights into the beginning of the universe.

"Seeing the SKA Low telescope antennas finally being installed on the ground is a proud moment for us all," the AAP news agency quoted the observatory's director general, Professor Phillip Diamond, as saying. The telescopes will make it possible to test Einstein's theories and observe space in greater detail than ever before. "With this telescope in Australia, we will observe the birth and death of the first stars and galaxies, which will give us valuable clues about the evolution of the universe."

The "Square Kilometre Array" is considered one of the most important scientific projects of this century. In total, the antennas and telescopes will later form a reception area of one square kilometer, which is where the name of the project comes from.


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