Giant Australian telescope in galaxy hunt

Dec. 31, 2012 at 5:48 PM

GERALDTON, Australia, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Two sky surveys dubbed Wallaby and Dingo to be carried out by a giant radio telescope array in Australia could uncover 700,000 more galaxies, astronomers say.

The Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder, or Askap, is located in a remote desert region of Western Australia and will scan vast regions of space in search of clues about galaxy evolution, Britain's The Guardian newspaper reported.

The array is made up of 36 39-foot-diameter dishes linked together as a single antenna to scour the cosmos.

"Askap is a highly capable telescope," Alan Duffy, a member of the Askap team at the University of Western Australia, said. "Its surveys will find more galaxies, further away, and will be able to study them in more detail than any other radio telescope in the world.

"We predict that Wallaby will find an amazing 600,000 new galaxies and Dingo 100,000, spread over trillions of cubic light years of space."

Askap is the first element in an even more ambitious project, the Square Kilometer Array, with radio dishes in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand all linked together to created the world's largest radio telescope, set to be operational in 2019.

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