South Africa's MeerKAT Radio Telescope to Help Unlock Mysteries of Universe

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 16, 2018

Scientists attached to the Square Kilometre Array Project, have celebrated the launch of the MeerKAT - the precursor to the SKA.

At an inauguration attended by government officials and foreign dignitaries, Mr. Camilo released new images taken by MeerKAT of the region surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, some 25,000 light years away.

The biggest radio telescope of its kind in the southern hemisphere, MeerKAT looks like a cluster of eggs when you first see it about an hour's drive outside Carnarvon.

An overview of the MeerKAT radio telescope now being constructed in the Karoo in the Northern Cape, South Africa.

But infrared, X-ray, and some radio wavelengths, like the ones MeerKAT detects, can penetrate this dust, providing a unique view of the region.

The telescope is called the MeerKAT radio telescope, and it's actually made up of 64 individual dishes, all of which detect radio waves.

"We didn't expect to use our telescope so early in the game, it's not even optimized, but to turn it to the centre of the galaxy and obtain these stunning images, the best in the world, tells you you've done something right, better than right", Camilo told Reuters.

Black hole expert Farhad Yusef-Zadeh‚ of Northwestern University in the US‚ said: "This image is remarkable".

South Africa takes pride in the fact that Meerkat was completed on time and within the originally projected budget of 3.2 billion rand (about 240 million USA dollars), Mabuza said.

"It's an exceptional achievement - congratulations to our South African colleagues‚" he added.

They've built an instrument that will be the envy of astronomers everywhere and will be in great demand for years to come'. "This is the eyes, with the MeerKAT being the ears as a radio telescope".

He said the MeerKAT "shows so many features never before seen" that it could provide the key to cracking the code of some of our astronomical riddles.

"Today is a special day of pride for the continent of Africa". It is managed by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), where most of the specialized hardware and associated software was designed and built, in cooperation with industrial partners.

The dishes are of a highly efficient design with up to four cryogenic receiver systems operating in different bands of the radio spectrum.

The MeerKAT will be incorporated into complex Square Kilometre Array instrument.

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