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World's largest telescope to be built in Guizhou province

May 23, 2016

Optical scientists from China and Australia are collaborating on the design and construction of a 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, to be built in Guizhou province, China.

According to Asian Scientist, teams from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia are working together to develop the world's largest single dish telescope.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) will be half a kilometer in diameter. FAST will far outsize the current largest telescope, the 305-meter wide Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

The new telescope will be one of the world's most sensitive, with the ability to receive weaker and more distant radio signals. This could help scientists learn more about the nature, origins and evolution of the universe.

The 19-beam receiver which is a key component of the telescope will be built by CSIRO engineers in Australia. Most radio telescopes have receivers capable of seeing only one piece of sky at a time, whereas the many separate, simultaneous beams of FAST make it easier to search large portions of sky for faint and hidden galaxies.

Professor Na Rendong from NAOC said that the ground-breaking telescope would help astronomers understand the origins of the universe: "FAST will make it possible for us to look for a range of extremely interesting and exotic objects, like detecting thousands of new pulsars in our galaxy, and possibly the first radio pulsar in other galaxies."

The development has not been without controversy; anyone living within a 5km radius of the project has been relocated by the government to help protect the telescope's electromagnetic wave environment.

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