The real communication with space!The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), located in a remote desert area, 315 kilometres north-east of Geraldton, Western Australia, of Western Australia, has 36 dishes and will soon be joined by 60 more, all of which will be incorporated into phase one of the international SKA project, hosted jointly by Australia-New Zealand and South Africa.
Its location, according to astronomers, is ideal as it is free of radio signals that would mix up with astronomical radio signals.
Using new "radio cameras" called phased array feeds, the telescope will be able scan the sky much more rapidly than existing radio telescopes and will give the telescope a field of view about 150 times the area of the full Moon.
Only in its early stages of operation, scientists are already predicting big finds such as over 700,000 super galaxies with signals that were sent before the Earth existed.
In a paper published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Australian researchers have combined computer simulations with ASKAP’s specifications to predict the new telescope’s extraordinary capabilities.
“ASKAP is a highly capable telescope. Its surveys will find more galaxies, further away and be able to study them in more detail than any other radio telescope in the world until the SKA Is built,” said Dr Alan Duffy from The University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.
ASKAP Radio Telescope from Alex Cherney on Vimeo.
“Our simulation is similar to testing a Formula 1 car in a wind tunnel before using it on the track.”
ASKAP will start scanning southern skies in 2013 as a forerunner to the massive Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be shared between Australia-New Zealand and Southern Africa.
Dr Duffy said two ASKAP surveys, WALLABY and DINGO, would examine galaxies to study hydrogen gas - the fuel that forms stars - and how those galaxies had changed in the last 4 billion years, allowing us to better understand how our own galaxy, the Milky Way, grew.
“We predict that WALLABY will find an amazing 600,000 new galaxies and DINGO 100,000, spread over trillions of cubic light years of space.”
Dr Duffy said the new ASKAP galaxy surveys would also allow astronomers to probe the nature of one of astronomy’s greatest mysteries - Dark Energy.
Combining a large simulation of the Universe with new theories of galaxy formation - including the effects of supermassive black holes - had led scientists to accurately predict where as-yet undiscovered galaxies should be located, Dr Duffy said.
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“We calculated how much of the model Universe ASKAP could observe using details of the telescope’s capabilities,” said co-author Dr Baerbel Koribalski, who has recently been appointed as an Office of the Chief Executive Science Leader at the CSIRO.
Co-author Associate Professor Darren Croton from Swinburne University of Technology also said the predictions would be used to help scientists refine how to handle the large quantity of data ASKAP will produce and test theories of galaxy formation.
“If we don't see this many galaxies, then the Universe is strangely different to our simulations,” Associate Professor Croton said.
ASKAP will become part of the world’s largest telescope – the SKA.
ICRAR is a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia providing research excellence in the field of radio astronomy.