Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

The Square Kilometre Array

Dr. Russ Taylor
University of Calgary

Wednesday, December 3, 2003
1:30 PM @ Stirling A


Advances in observation and theory have brought the current generation of astronomers to the brink of understanding the origin and evolution of the Universe. The next major step, to explore the earliest epochs of the evolution of the Universe, before and during the dawn of first light and the creation of stars and galaxies, and to trace the subsequent formation and evolution of primordial galaxies will require a giant telescope operating at radio wavelengths. Scientists and engineers from thirty-four institutes in fifteen countries have joined together with a common goal to construct a new radio telescope with a total collecting area of one million square meters, 100 times the collecting area of the Very Large Array. Technological advances and innovative approaches to construction of radio telescope aperture promise to make it possible for such a telescope – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) - to be built in the next decade, at a cost of about 1 billion dollars. The SKA will be an interferometric array operating at wavelengths from about 2 metres to 1.5 cm, with baselines from less than a kilometre to thousands of kilometres. By combining interferometry and phase-array technology, the SKA is designed to be the world's premier astronomical imaging instrument, imaging wide fields of view at high angular resolution and exploring a large redshift domain with high spectral resolution. Significant fractions of the volume of the Universe will be imaged instantaneously in three-dimensions. The international collaboration for the SKA is undertaking a program of research and development on innovative technologies, with the aim to converge on the optimal facility design later in this decade and begin construction of the SKA early in the next decade. Canada has played a leading role in the SKA initiative since its inception, and Canadian technological innovation has generated one of the leading concepts for the SKA technology, the Large Adaptive Reflector. A consortium of Universities, in partnership with the National Research Council is developing this technology with plans to build a demonstrator telescope, the Canadian Large Adaptive Reflector (CLAR), later in this decade. Until the completion of the SKA, the CLAR will be the largest telescope in the world, and its unique capabilities will allow Canadian scientists to lead the world in key areas of high sensitivity astrophysics, for example measuring the equation of state of the Universe, charting the large scale structure of the Universe and the Cosmic Web, and mapping the pulsar population in the Milky Way.

Refreshments will be available after the talk.