Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

#MeerKAT radio telescope to be unveiled in NC today

#MeerKAT radio telescope to be unveiled in NC today

When completed, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescopes will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system now in existence, according to the project.

The 64-dish MeerKAT telescope will be integrated into a multi-nation Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

It has been a decade in the making‚ and now the MeerKAT radio telescope has been unveiled.

This story was reported by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The telescope's location in South Africa is also ideal, with the Milky Way passing overhead and visible for nearly 12 hours each day.

Deputy president David Mabuza launched the 64-dish radio telescope at Carnavon in the Northern Cape today.

The merger of the two telescopes is slated for sometime around 2023.

SKA chief scientist Dr Fernando Camilo said: "Time and time again history shows that when you build a really good telescope, it ends up doing, if you look at 10 years later or 20 years later when you look back people will see what we've built and what it was built to do and some of those are the most exciting sometimes".

SKA SA Managing Director, Rob Adam, said: "We have electricians being trained, boilermakers, fitters and turners and people splashing the fibre that carries the signal from the satellites through the computers, that fibre is being splashed by people from the local community".

For example, according to the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, a panorama captured by the new telescope on July 13 showed the clearest view of a black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The centre of the Milky Way is 25,000 light-years away from Earth and lies behind the constellation Sagittarius.

"The centre of the galaxy was an obvious target: unique‚ visually striking and full of unexplained phenomena - but also notoriously hard to image using radio telescopes‚" said Camilo. "Although it's early days with MeerKAT, and a lot remains to be optimized, we made a decision to go for it - and were stunned by the results".

"This image is remarkable", says Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, one of the world's leading experts on the mysterious filamentary structures present near the central black hole but nowhere else in the Milky Way. The image was taken by the MeerKAT continuously for about 270 hours.

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