Aus plans for mega-telescope come into focus

Ramesha Perera
Mon 04 Mar

The CSIRO announced one giant leap for mankind last week with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), support system design being approved – a major milestone! 

Awesome, I hear you say as you quickly Google SKA. Let me help you out, the SKA is a radio telescope designed to be so sensitive it could detect an airport radar on a planet tens of light years away.! This sensitivity will revolutionise the worlds understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics.  

Astronomers will be able to track the growth of millions of galaxies through cosmic time, and perhaps finally begin to understand the mystery of ‘dark energy’. And they’ll be able to trace the giant magnetic fields that run through the universe, learning what generates them. 

More excitingly, if astronomers can discover a pulsar orbiting a black hole that will help answer the age-old question is Einstein theory of gravity right or does it need adjusting? 

A pulsar acts as a natural clock, emitting very regular pulses of radio waves, while a black hole has an extremely strong gravitational field. Einstein’s theory predicts that a strong gravitational field will alter a clock’s timing. By precisely recording when the pulsar’s radio pulses reach Earth.  

Have I lost you? That’s ok, you have time to catch up. The key takeaway is that the SKA is another huge feat putting Australia in the major leagues of science and astronomy. With 12 partner countries each designing individual components of the SKA and the telescope ultimately having a total collecting area of one square kilometre (hence the name) – the SKA is another example of the phenomenal work the CSIRO’s Western Australia outback Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory is doing!  

Wanna explore and learn more about one of the largest scientific endeavours in history? Take the virtual tour now!