Perth: India is providing critical digital electronics sub-systems for a USD 29 million next-generation radio telescope, being built by Australia which will help to study early universe, the Sun and space weather.
The telescope - known as the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) - is a radically new = type of radio telescope, with no moving parts, and dependent on prodigious computer power to create exquisite real-time wide-field images of the radio sky, Professor Steven Tingay of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University told PTI.
The MWA is an international project led by Curtin University in Australia, MIT Haystack Observatory in the US, and India`s Raman Research Institute (RRI).
Observing frequencies from 80 to 300 MHz and located in the radio-quiet western Australia, the MWA will observe with unprecedented sensitivity to discover low frequency radio phenomena that have never been seen before, he said.
Scientists and engineers at the RRI are supplying critical digital electronics sub-systems for the MWA, he said.
"Our ties with India are quite successful and helpful for the project," Tingay said.
Explaining the project, he said: "The radio waves from the distant universe are converted into electrical signal by the antennas. These signals will go to the receiver where they are converted by the digital sub-system into digital signals that can then be transmitted via optical fibre to a central processing facility for conversion into images of the sky."
"The cost of antennas is very low and they are very small but we are using new and sophisticated technologies in this project, particularly in the computing and signal processing required for the instrument," he said.
A total of 128 antennas will be located over a 3 km area and will be serviced by 16 receivers containing the digital sub-systems from RRI. Eight antennas are plugged into one receiver. The 128 antennas instrument will be completed by the end of 2012.
The telescope will help to study the early universe, the Sun, space weather, and time variability of the radio sky. Cosmologists will use the MWA to map the universe during the Epoch of Reionization, soon after the Big Bang, when the earliest stars, galaxies, and quasars formed.
The MWA will map the Sun in the day, with particular focus on solar storms and the ever-changing solar magnetic field that shapes those storms and in turn determines space weather around Earth. And when not looking at the early universe or the Sun, it will map the radio sky in the first systematic search for variability, as from supernovae etc.
The MWA is located near Boolardy station in Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO).