Rapid expansion in NZ and WA astronomy

Teams from Australia, India and North America are collaborating to creat the Murchison Widefield Array Radio Telescope. Credit: David Herne, ICRAR
Teams from Australia, India and North America are collaborating to create the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope. Credit: David Herne, ICRAR

Western Australia’s International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) is only three months old but is rapidly expanding—much like the early Universe. ICRAR’s scientists have ambitious projects ahead contributing to global science and engineering through the SKA.

ICRAR’s researchers will marshal new discoveries through large-scale neutral hydrogen surveys, studying the variable universe on short time scales and developing new antennas and other technologies. Their research will be enhanced as pathfinder instruments such as ASKAP and the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) come online.

Collecting information from the whole universe takes tremendous computing power so another ICRAR objective will be the development of new methods to store and analyse the exabytes of data that are expected to be generated daily.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand SKA Research and Development Consortium has been formed to coordinate New Zealand-wide research efforts. Highlights from current activities include: researchers at Victoria University of Wellington investigating both the science and new image analysis required to detect very faint radio sources; development of a low-frequency transient source detector by a consortium of five universities to contribute to our understanding of variable radio sources; and, construction of a 12 metre dish by Auckland University of Technology for participation in trans-Tasman observations.

Further information: Australia and New Zealand SKA Project, Tel: +61 (2) 6213 6000, www.ska.gov.au