India to participate in next-generation radio telescope project

Perth: A next-generation radio telescope which will study the early Universe, Sun and space weather is being built in western Australia through a joint project involving India, Australia and the United States.

A radically new type of radio telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) has no moving parts and depends on prodigious computer power to create exquisite real-time wide-field images of the radio sky, according to professor Steven Tingay of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University.

Located in the radio-quiet, western Australia outback, the MWA will observe with unprecedented sensitivity low-frequency radio phenomena never been seen before, Tingay said. The MWA will operate in frequencies ranging from 80 to 300 MHz.

The MWA, with a total cost of 30 million Australian dollars ($28.98 million), is an international project led by Curtin University in Australia, MIT Haystack Observatory in the US and the Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore.

Scientists and engineers at the RRI are supplying critical digital electronics sub-systems for the MWA, Tingay said.

"The radio waves from the distant Universe are converted into electrical signal by the antennas. These signals will go to the receiver where they are converted by the digital sub-system into digital signals that can then be transmitted via optical fibre to a central processing facility for conversion into images of the sky," Tingay said.