The world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope has now begun formal operations.
Known as the Five-hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), the facility, located in a deep depression in southwest China’s Guizhou province, will help astronomers to shed new light on the evolution of the universe, and even search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
FAST began trial operations in September 2016, but will now gradually become available for use by astronomers from around the world, Chinese state media Xinhua reported.
The telescope consists of a single dish, which has a diameter of 500 meters (1,640 feet) and an area equivalent to 30 football fields. According to Chinese officials, FAST is around 2.5 times more sensitive than the previous largest telescope in the world—the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico—and can process up to 38 gigabytes of information every second.
“Arecibo and FAST are the only two radio telescopes of their type, i.e., built into large depressions in the local terrain and pointed straight up all the time,” Rick Steinberg, a spokesperson from the American Astronomical Society, told Newsweek.
“Arecibo is 300 meters, whereas FAST is 500, so it’s quite a bit bigger. But the technology, as far as I’m aware, is much the same in the two places, since Arecibo’s receivers have been updated several times over the decades,” he said.
In total, FAST —whose nickname “Tianyan” means “Eye of the Sky or “Eye of Heaven”—has expanded the range of space that telescopes can investigate, providing unprecedented opportunities to study astronomical phenomena, Li Kejia from the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University told Xinhua.
Among the phenomena FAST will be studying over the coming years are pulsars—incredibly dense, relatively small stars with powerful magnetic fields that can rotate hundreds of times per second and shoot out intense beams of radiation.
In fact, FAST has already identified 102 new pulsars over the past two years during its trial period, according to Xinhua. Part of the research at FAST will also be focused on is looking for potential extraterrestrial signals.
“In the process of observing signals from celestial bodies, we also collect signals that might be emitted by humans or extraterrestrial intelligence,” Zhu Ming from FAST told Chinese state TV network CCTV.
“However, this is a huge amount of work, since most signals we see—99 percent of them—are various noises, so we need to take our time to identify the signals we want in the noises,” Zhu said.
The construction of FAST was completed in 2016, around two decades after it was first proposed by Chinese astronomers. Altogether, the project cost 1.2 billion yuan, which is equivalent to around $174 million.
- Iconic alien-hunting Arecibo telescope that featured in Bond film GoldenEye will be permanently shut down after 57 years due to snapped cables putting it at risk of 'catastrophic failure'
- Planet-hunting Ariel telescope spearheaded by British experts will launch in 2029 to study more than 1,000 exoplanets, ESA announces
- Moon of Jupiter prime candidate for alien life after water blast found
- The end of Arecibo: The era of giant telescopes is coming to a close
- Operation Shambles: Will the £42BILLION 'Operation Moonshot' test and trace plan actually work? This devastating exposé reveals how ministers have scorned some of Britain's top virus experts, hired novices instead - and blown billions, writes DAVID ROSE
- How the Biden Administration can Respond to China's Influence in Africa | Opinion
- Iconic Arecibo Observatory radio telescope faces demolition after cable failures
- NASA reveals sending the first woman and next man to the moon by 2024 is 'unlikely' due to lack of funding, scheduling issues and the impact of the coronavirus had on operations
- Second senior Beijing epidemiologist uses Italian antibody study to claim Covid-19 did not originate in Wuhan, but was first discovered there due to China’s extensive testing
- Dozens of superhabitable planets that are ‘BETTER suited for life than Earth’ discovered ‘close’ to our world
- The search for life – from Venus to the outer solar system
- Massive 115-foot parachutes that will deliver UK's first ever Mars rover Rosalind Franklin to the Red Planet in 2023 are successfully tested in the Oregon desert
- Astronomers use a contraption made from a metal pipe and two CAKE TINS to identify the source of a mysterious fast radio burst in the Milky Way
- Losing Arecibo Observatory would create a hole that can't be filled, scientists say
- What does the Mandalorian have against creatures?
- VIETNAM'S BUSINESS NEWS HEADLINES JUNE 14
- Full text of Chinese President Xi Jinping's remarks at the 27th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting
- Biden foreign policy adviser Antony Blinken on top global challenges
- VIETNAM NEWS NOVEMBER 21 (updated hourly)
- Jacob Rees-Mogg blasts National Trust for not realising 'how wonderful' Winston Churchill was after it included World War Two hero's home on 'woke' list of properties linked to slavery and colonialism
China's Enormous Alien-Hunting Telescope Is Now Fully Operational have 777 words, post on www.newsweek.com at January 22, 2020. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.