MeerKAT is the most sensitive radio telescope on the planet and it is now used in South Africa. This is the first time all its 64 dishes are used in order to get a better look of space portions that would normally be invisible. Until now certain parts of the telescope were used, but never all of them.
In about two months the telescope should be ready to use. However, the telescope was tested already and we were able to take a peek at some of the results. The telescope was used by researchers in order to produce a panorama of the galaxy centre of the Milky Way.
In order to get the image, X-ray and infrared wavelengths were used as well as radio ones. With their help, gas was penetrated. The final image is a beautiful one, but it also revealed many interesting details. We are able to see the sources of magnetized filament structures that are closer to the black hole.
Two projects are in works
The telescope will be used for two different projects in the future. First of all, researchers will use it to tackle various transients such as radio bursts. Additionally, the telescope will be used in order to examine the hydrogen levels in galaxies. This project could be very useful for explaining the history of the universe.
MeerKAT will also be used for some important projects and each one will receive 1000 hours of observation. The eight projects will take place in the next five years. In 2002 MeerKAT will be folded into the Square Kilometer Array. After that the telescope will integrate with 130 dishes that already exist in South Africa, as well as 130,000 antennas from Australia. This is a major step forward for science in Africa.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca