Australia using powerful new telescope

Oct. 5, 2012 at 2:44 PM
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CANBERRA, Australia, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Australia now has one of the world's most powerful telescopes, which astronomers say will survey outer space to probe the origins of stars and galaxies.

The $155 million Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder in Western Australia's outback has 36 antennas, each with a diameter of 40 feet, that were set to begin capturing radio images Friday, the BBC reported.

It is part of the bigger Square Kilometer Array, is set to begin construction in 2016, that will combine and connect radio telescope arrays in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian facility will be able to scan the sky much faster than existing telescopes, scientists said, and its location in a remote area of the western Australian desert means there will be limited interference from man-made radio signals.

John O'Sullivan of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, said that while the telescope is not very big "it is still a very, very powerful survey instrument to start to get a look [at] the origins of galaxies."

"It is the beginning of a great new period, I think," he said.

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