"Spidery" Radio Telescope Can See More Objects in Greater Detail
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a new type of radio telescope located in the unique radio-quiet environment of CSIRO's Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. Each of its 128 stations - or 'tiles' - is made up of 16 spidery looking dipole elements on steel mesh. These tiles are distributed in a dense core area of roughly 1.5km and a sparse outer area to a distance of about 3km. The combination of a dense core and a large overall area results in very high imaging quality, a large field of view of several hundred square degrees and high angular resolution. That means that the MWA can see more objects in greater detail. Recent Australian Government funding will go towards building a second phase of the MWA, which will double the number of antennas in the array and the maximum baseline length, and boost all-sky survey capabilities.