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Current Affairs

Square Kilometre Array

Date: 05 February 2021 Tags: Space

Issue

The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Council held its maiden meeting and approved the establishment of the world’s largest radio telescope.

 

Background

SKAO is a new intergovernmental organisation dedicated to radio astronomy and is headquartered in the UK.

 

Details

Organisations from ten countries are a part of the SKAO. These include Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK.

 

Radio telescope

  • Unlike optical telescopes, radio telescopes can detect invisible gas and, therefore, they can reveal areas of space that may be hidden by cosmic dust.

  • Astronomers have used radio telescopes to detect radio waves emitted by different objects in the universe and explore it.

  • The field of radio astronomy evolved after World War II and became one of the most important tools for making astronomical observations since.

  • The Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, which was the second-largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, collapsed in December 2020. 

  • Scientists employed it to observe planets, asteroids, and the ionosphere, making several discoveries over the decades, including finding prebiotic molecules in distant galaxies, the first exoplanets, and the first-millisecond pulsar.

 

Significance of SKA

  • The telescope is proposed to be the largest radio telescope in the world and will be located in Africa and Australia whose operation, maintenance, and construction will be overseen by SKAO.

  • The telescope will accomplish its scientific goals by measuring neutral hydrogen over cosmic time, accurately timing the signals from pulsars in the Milky Way, and detecting millions of galaxies out to high redshifts.

  • The development of SKA will use the results of various surveys undertaken using another powerful telescope called the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP).

  • This telescope has been fully operational since February 2019 and mapped over three million galaxies in a record 300 hours during its first all-sky survey conducted late last year.