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Green light for South African radio telescope

24 Aug 2018, 09:38 UTC
Green light for South African radio telescope
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South Africa has given the go-ahead for a radio telescope that will study dark energy, detect fast radio bursts as well as track neutral hydrogen gas on cosmic scales. Costing R70 million ($5m), the Hydrogen Intensity and Real Time Analysis eXperiment (HIRAX) will consist of 1024 dishes, each 6 m in diameter, located in the Karoo region of South Africa and will map about a third of the sky during four years of operation.
One of the main aims of HIRAX will be to pinpoint the location of fast radio bursts – high-energy astrophysical phenomenon that consist of millisecond radio pulses. “The origin of these flashes is still a mystery,” says Kavilan Moodley, HIRAX team principal investigator. “They’re hard to detect and localize since they’re so brief and most telescopes only observe a small region of the sky.” HIRAX’s large field of view will allow astronomers to observe large portions of the sky daily so, in principle, when the flashes happen the instrument will be more likely to see them.
[HIRAX and MeerKAT] could give us a fuller view of some phenomena than one telescope alone could do
Fernando Camilo
Since 2016 researchers have been testing eight prototype dishes at ...

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