A sample of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescopes

The Western Australian Museum – Geraldton, in collaboration with the Centre for All-sky Astrophysics, is offering the Mid West community a first-hand look at the Murchison Widefield Array technology set to put the region on the international map.

WA Museum – Geraldton regional manager Catherine Belcher said the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a large focus of the Museum’s 2012 National Science Week program, which includes the MWA exhibition and a talk by CAASTRO scientist Dr Randall Wayth.

“The Museum is proud to be working together with scientists from the MWA and the Curtin University node of CAASTRO to share this significant development in international astronomy with the community,” Ms Belcher said.

The Murchison Widefield Array, developed by an international consortium, is the low-frequency radio telescope precursor instrument to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

The 128 MWA antennas (‘tiles’) will be located across a 1.5km region near Boolardy station, about 150km north-east of Geraldton at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, forming an array with very high imaging quality and a field of view of several hundred square degrees at a resolution of several arcminutes.

Director of the Murchison Widefield Array and CAASTRO Chief Investigator Professor Steven Tingay said researchers will utilise the MWA when it goes online next year to try to understand what happened shortly after the Big Bang.

“The combination of the MWA, the power of the latest supercomputers and the radio-quiet environment of the Murchison region will allow us to search for the incredibly weak signals coming from the early stages in the evolution of the Universe, some 13 billion years ago.

“The MWA display at the WA Museum – Geraldton will allow visitors to catch a glimpse and a greater understanding of the advanced, next-generation radio astronomy taking place here in Australia,” Professor Tingay said.

The Murchison Widefield Array tile display can be seen at the WA Museum – Geraldton until August 26, 2012.

A free Sandwich Science Session on the MWA will be presented by Curtin University’s Dr Randall Wayth at the WA Museum – Geraldton on Friday August 17, from 12pm.

More information on the MWA tile display and the Museum’s National Science Week program can be found online at museum.wa.gov.au/whats-on/whats-on-now/geraldton

Supported by MWA and CAASTRO

Media contact:
Niki Comparti
Western Australian Museum
9212 3840
niki.comparti@museum.wa.gov.au
 
CAASTRO contact:
Dr Wiebke Ebeling
CAASTRO, Curtin University
9266 9174
wiebke.ebeling@curtin.edu.au