Field of Science

Australia Trip to Murchison Wide Field Array

I am going to Australia for two weeks on Sunday to work on data collecting and commissioning of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). The MWA is a next generation radio telescope being built in the radio free void of Western Australia. The radio sky is a largely unexplored area of astronomy. The radio sky holds many exciting scientific prospects and by observing it we can learn about cosmology, the first stars, our Sun, galaxies, the structure of the Milky Way, pulsars, dark matter, and dark energy. Studying the sky in radio wavelengths is tricky because of the complex electrical engineering problems its presents and the sheer computing challenge which arises from the fact that each antenna must be correlated with every other antenna thus thus computational cost of adding antennas goes as the number of antennas squared. Currently we have 32 'antennas' out (already more than the VLA); each antenna actually consists of 16 dual polarization dipoles (seen below in the image). The final MWA layout will have 512 antenna tiles with 8192 dipole elements sensing the sky in the frequency range of 80-300 MHz. We have already generated some fantastic images of Centaurus A and other fields, but I am not sure what images I am allowed to release. In the next two weeks I will write up what I am up to in my Australian travels and hopefully I will post some never before seen images.

1 comment:

  1. I heard some talks at AAS on MWA. (For example Morales gave one). Sounds like a really cool experiment and if I was going to do 21cm stuff that is the one I would want to be apart of.

    Good luck in Australia.


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