News and Travel Editor
On Sunday 25th September 2016, China will unveil the world’s largest telescope and begin test operations searching for signals to understand the origin of the universe and the Big Bang.
The Five-Hundred-Metre Aperture Spherical Telescope, known as FAST has been constructed over five years in a remote area of Guizhou province, south central China. It has been built in a 45 million year old crater, unlikely to be affected by flooding and far from human interference.
The 500m dish surpasses Arecibo radio telescope, built in Puerto Rico in 1963, as the world’s largest and is three times more sensitive in detecting radio waves thousands of light years away.
Professor Richard Schilizzi, Associate Director of the UK’s Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre says: China are taking a big step forward in astronomy. The science that is infront of them has great prospects of transforming our view of the universe.’
FAST consists of 4450 individual panels and Chinese project engineers had to design a cable net of ten thousand cables to manipulate it to detect signals. FAST’s focus cabin is also unique thanks to a directional tracking system.
A key mission for the telescope will be detecting pulsars, the matter that remains when a star eight times the size of the sun explodes. These pulsars rotate thousands of times per second and, as Professor Phil Diamond of UK’s Jodrell Bank Discovery explains, are the universe’s most accurate clock:
‘By measuring the sync of from these superb rotating clocks we can measure all sorts of subtle things predicted by Einstein, which we cannot do from earth or even in our own solar system.’
What do you think they will find? Are you excited to find out? Let us know in the comments below!