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Radio Astronomy

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Radio astronomy is one of the State Government's five science priority areas identified in A Science Statement for Western Australia – Growing Western Australia. The unique physical characteristics and sparsely populated regional areas of the State's Mid West make it a premier location for radio astronomy.

The State Government's investment in radio astronomy and related activities has helped to establish significant science infrastructure; attracted high calibre radio astronomy and engineering expertise; and contributed to employment opportunities, science education outcomes and international collaborations in Western Australia.

Western Australia's Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) is currently home to two world-leading radio telescopes and will host the Australian component of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. The success of the MRO has put Western Australia and the Mid West on the map as a key location for radio astronomy and positioned the State to participate in the SKA.

Establishment of the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), a joint venture between the University of Western Australia and Curtin University, occurred in 2009 with State Government funding. In less than a decade, ICRAR has built a world-class centre of excellence in astronomical science, engineering and information technologies. It is now one of the largest radio astronomy research groups in Australia, with more than 120 researchers.

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is at the forefront of the data processing and analytics and provides important support for radio astronomy activities at the MRO. As host to the Southern Hemisphere's most powerful publically funded research supercomputer 'Magnus,'  the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre is used by a wide range of disciplines beyond radio astronomy, including medical research and the minerals and resources sector.

   A panoramic photo at the MRO showing the first Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) antenna.

Credit: Paul Bourke and Jonathan Knispel. Supported by WASP (UWA), iVec, ICRAR and CSIRO.

​What is Radio Astronomy?

 

Radio astronomy is the study of space objects and phenomena by capturing radio waves from space. Radio telescopes provide alternative views to optical telescopes, they can detect gas that is invisible to the human eye, and can be used both night and day.

Radio telescopes capture extremely large volumes of data. Using sophisticated computer programming, radio astronomers can unravel the signals to study the birth and death of stars, the formation of galaxies and the various kinds of matter in the Universe.

 

Further Information

 

 

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Image: A radio astronomy image of the giant radio galaxy Centaurus A as imaged by the MWA at 155MHz

Credit: Dr Randall Wayth and the MWA team

Further information about radio astronomy and related activities is available on the following websites:

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For further information on radio astronomy in Western Australia, please Contact us.