SA's newest radio telescope to probe mysteries of dark energy

SA's newest radio telescope to probe mysteries of dark energy

South African researchers are expanding their arsenal of radio telescopes, which now includes a device that will study dark energy mapping - out the amounts of hydrogen in the universe. 

Hirax telescope

Researchers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the Department of Science and Technology through the National Research Foundation, are set to launch the HIRAX (hydrogen intensity and real time analysis experiment) today. 

Spanning over four years of data collection, the project will consist of 1 024 six-metre dishes mapping about a third of the Southern Africa sky. 

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HIRAX principal investigator, UKZN's Professor Moodley says it will work closely with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) team based at the Karoo.

"It's a radio telescope that will operate at radio frequencies of between 400 and 800 MHz. We'll study dark energy using intensity mapping of hydrogen gas in the universe. 

"Other goals of the project are to detect and localise the mysterious flashes in the radio sky called fast radio bursts. We will do this by working with smaller arrays connected to the main HIRAX array," he said. 

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