EXPECTED TO BE A "GAME CHANGER" IN UNDERSTANDING NEWLY DISCOVERED SPACE PHENOMENA
PENTICTON - Canada’s newest and most advanced contribution to radio astronomy was unveiled to the public this afternoon on White Lake Road.
Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan and National Research Council of Canada members were on hand at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory on White Lake Road near Kaleden this afternoon, Sept. 7, to witness the installation of the final piece of Canada’s largest radio telescope, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME.
Observatory Director Sean Dougherty called the occasion “an exciting day in Canadian astronomy,” adding the new instrument was “a radio telescope unlike any other.”
Standing in front of the impressive looking collection of four, 100-metre long metal half-pipes, Duncan called the observatory “a home-grown, technological feat that registers on an international scale.”
“Radio astronomy is one of the technologies pioneered right here in Canada,” she said. “CHIME will measure over half the sky each day as the earth turns. Its custom built supercomputer will crunch through nearly one terabyte of data per second,” she said, adding the data will produce a three dimensional map of cosmic structure over the largest volume of the universe ever observed.”
“This marvellous piece of technology represents a giant leap in our ability to understand space,” she said.
Duncan said her ministry has committed itself to improving the needs of scientists and researchers every day through the commissioning of a review of fundamental science, the first of its kind in 40 years. She said the government was also committed to establishing a chief science advisor to provide the government with "impartial scientific advice."
The new telescope was built through a collaborative effort of 50 Canadian scientists from the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University and the National Research Council of Canada at a cost of $16 million.
CHIME will scan the visible sky above the observatory daily for radio waves, sending the data to a massive supercomputer to compute an image of the sky using a program requiring seven quadrillion multiplications per second.
The technology employed in building the telescope draws on consumer technologies such as mass-produced signal amplifiers used in cell phones and graphics cards used in video game processors.
The project is intended to measure the expansion history of the universe, and “dark matter,” discovered in the 1990s and now believed to make up 68 per cent of all energy in the universe.
McGill University researcher Dr. Victoria Kaspi called CHIME “a game changer” in the study of “Fast Radio Bursts,” discovered a decade ago but still considered to be bizarre intergalactic events of which little is known.
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