Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Big step forward for NZ-Aust SKA telescope network

Big step forward for NZ-Aust SKA telescope network

New Zealand and Australia’s bid to host the international SKA radio telescope has taken a leap forward, following the commissioning of a working optical fibre link between AUT University’s radio telescope and radio telescopes across Australia including CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope in Western Australia.

The achievement is being announced at the 2011 International SKA Forum, taking place this week in Banff, Canada.

On 29 June, radio astronomers used six telescopes — AUT’s at Warkworth, ASKAP, three more CSIRO telescopes in NSW and a telescope of The University of Tasmania — together to observe a radio source that may be two black holes orbiting each other.

Data from all sites were streamed in real time to Curtin University in Perth and processed to make an image.

This ability to successfully link antennas (dishes) over large distances is vital for the future $2.5 billion SKA telescope, which will have several thousand antennas, up to 5,500 kilometres apart, working together as a single telescope. Linking antennas in such a manner allows astronomers to see distant galaxies in more detail.

"We now have an SKA-scale network in Australia and New Zealand: a combination of CSIRO and NBN-supported fibre and the existing AARNET and KAREN research and education networks," says Dr Brian Boyle, SKA Director for Australasia.

AUT’s Professor Sergei Gulyaev says, “SKA’s thousands of dishes will produce so much information per second that recording over many hours would be simply impossible. Instead we will have to stream and process vast amounts of data in real-time. This is 21st century technology and we are proud that New Zealand is at the very forefront of this development.”

The radio astronomers targeted PKS 0637-752, a quasar more than twelve thousand million light years away.It emits a spectacular radio jet with regularly spaced bright spots in it, like a string of pearls. Some astronomers have suggested that this striking pattern is created by two black holes in orbit around each other, one black hole periodically triggering the other to “feed” and emit a burst of radiation.

“It’s a fascinating object, and we were able to zoom right into its core, seeing details just a few millionths of a degree in scale, equivalent to looking at a 10 cent piece from a distance of 1,000 km” says CSIRO astronomer Dr Tasso Tzioumis.

During the experiment radio astronomers controlled all the telescopes over the Internet from Warkworth and Sydney.

Professor John Raine, Chair of REANNZ says, “SKA-like real-time observations are a great achievement by New Zealand and Australian researchers. KAREN which provides the data network for New Zealand’s research insitutions intends to be an anchor tenant on a new international cable that, if built, will provide international connectivity of 40 Gbps by 2014, scaling through 80Gbs in 2017 to 160Gbsby 2022 – more than enough to link the New Zealand and Australian parts of SKA.”

Images and audio clips available at


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Energy Resources Aotearoa: Doubling Of Coal Use Shows Need For Local Natural Gas

New figures showing a near doubling of coal-fired electricity generation highlight New Zealand’s energy shortage and the need for natural gas as a lower carbon alternative, according to Energy Resources Aotearoa... More>>

E Tu: ‘Sense Of Mourning’ As Norske Skog Mill Set To Close

Workers at Norske Skog’s Tasman Mill now know they’ll be losing their jobs in little over a month’s time.
On Wednesday afternoon, workers were told the mill will be stopping production from the end of June... More>>

Stats NZ: Card Spending Sees Strong Growth In May

Seasonally adjusted card spending rose by $189 million (2.3 percent) between April 2021 and May 2021, Stats NZ said today.
Spending rose across all industries for the first time since New Zealand moved to level 1 in June 2020... More>>

Catalist: NZ’s New SME Stock Exchange, Gets Licence To Go Public

New Zealand has a new stock exchange – designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to raise up to $20 million a year from the public.
Called Catalist, the exchange has already been successfully working the private investment sector.... More>>

E-Commerce: Over 40% Of Those Engaged In The Bitcoin Community Are Millennials

Bitcoin has emerged to be a popular topic among millennials with digital currency increasingly being viewed as a potential source of creating wealth through investments. The interest in bitcoin by millennials signals the role this age group plays in the possible realization of the digital currency’s mass adoption... More>>

Stats NZ: New Zealand Is Getting Drier

While there is natural variation in precipitation due to seasons and cycles, New Zealand appears to be getting drier, Stats NZ said today... More>>