What is Square Kilometre Array (SKA): All about the world's largest radio telescope
Why in News?
Recently Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Council held its first meeting to approve the establishment of world’s largest radio telescope.
What is SKAO?
Square Kilometre Array observatory is an intergovernmental organisation which is new and dedicated to radio astronomy. It is headquartered in the UK. Currently, organisations from ten countries are a part of the SKAO. These include
- New Zealand
- South Africa
SKA telescope: Location and Cost
- The telescope will be located in Africa and Australia
- Its construction, operation and maintenance would be done under SKAO.
- It would take nearly a decade to complete at a cost of over £1.8 billion
SKA Telescope: Significance and use
- Scientists hope to find answers to some of the most intriguing questions using this telescope. These include:
- The beginning of the universe
- How and when the first stars were born
- The life-cycle of a galaxy
- They would look for possible options to detect technologically-active civilisations around the universe
- The telescope would help them in understanding where gravitational waves arise from.
- The scientists can measure neutral hydrogen over cosmic time using the telescope by studying the timing of signals from pulsars in the Milky Way galaxy.
- It can help detect millions of galaxies out to high redshifts.
What is Radio Telescope?
- Radio telescopes are capable of detecting invisible gases which normal telescopes cannot do. This is why they can reveal areas of space that are blocked due to cosmic dust.
- The first-ever radio signals were detected by physicist Karl Jansky in the 1930s
- After that various radio waves emitted by objects in the universe have been detected using radio telescopes.
- This field (radio astronomy) gained weightage post World War II.
About Arecibo telescope
- The Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico collapsed in December 2020. It was the second-largest single-dish radio telescope in the world.
- It was built in 1963.
- It had a very powerful radar which is why the scientists used it to observe various faraway planets, asteroids and even the ionosphere
- The telescope is responsible for making several discoveries over the decades.
- These include finding prebiotic molecules located in faraway galaxies, the discovery of exoplanets, and the first-millisecond pulsar.
SKA would be using the results of surveys undertaken by a powerful telescope known as the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). This was developed and operated by the country’s science agency CSIRO.