India, South Africa take part worldwide effort to hint galaxies

By: IANS | Kolkata |

Published:November 6, 2017 7:34 pm

India, South Africa, Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, optical telescope, Southern African Large Telescope, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, MeerKAT Absorption Line Survey, galaxy evolution, software industry, Big Data challenge India and South Africa have determined to increase their foot-print within the realm of stars underpinned by robust historic ties courting again to over 100 years. (Image Source: NASA)

India and South Africa have determined to increase their foot-print within the realm of stars underpinned by robust historic ties courting again to over 100 years. Bolstering 20 years of strategic partnership between each side, India is taking part within the multi-nation Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – set to develop into the world’s strongest radio telescope.

SKA would be the premier radio astronomy facility as soon as it’s constructed, with stations situated in Africa and Australia. Unlike optical telescopes, which might be hampered by cloud or poor climate circumstances on Earth, radio telescopes, working with alerts at an extended wavelength, can be utilized even in cloudy skies.

“Research areas that India and South Africa have been collaborating on include the study of transient events, developing new technology for optical and radio telescopes, and future research with the SKA,” Steven M. Crawford, SALT Science Data Manager, South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), instructed IANS.

The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is the most important optical telescope in Southern Hemisphere and SAAO operates it on behalf of the SALT basis, which incorporates South Africa, Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India, and different worldwide companions.

Crawford notes “it is a very exciting time for South Africa-India collaboration especially with how quickly both the communities are growing”. Radio astronomy by way of radio telescopes (a la Hollywood flick “Contact”) supplies various views to optical telescopes. They can detect invisible gasoline and might reveal areas of area that could be obscured by cosmic mud. MeerKAT, a 64-dish precursor radio telescope to SKA, is at present being inbuilt South Africa.

MeerKAT’s arsenal of 64 receptors will finally be built-in into the SKA. When totally up and operating within the 2020s, SKA can have a contingent of not less than three,000 dishes unfold throughout a sq. kilometre spanning two continents. There are quite a few key science programmes that will likely be carried out on it and a few of these contain South Africa and India partnerships.

Among these scorching science tasks is mapping hydrogen within the universe, informs Crawford, to hint the distribution of galaxies and matter within the universe. An worldwide crew of researchers led by N. Gupta and R. Srianand of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, will use MeerKAT in its first 5 years of operations to hold out the MeerKAT Absorption Line Survey (MALS) to hint the evolution of galaxies.

Hydrogen is probably the most considerable component within the universe and its constructing block as nicely. Stars basically type from hydrogen.
“Galaxies are made up of gas (hydrogen) and stars, and in order to understand how galaxies evolved, we need to understand how gas is converted to stars and vice versa. To understand star formation, the key component of gas in galaxies is the cold gas component,” Gupta instructed IANS.

It is that this gasoline part, which finally collapses below gravity to type stars. “So if we map the distribution of the cold gas in galaxies, we can understand how galaxies had formed and evolved,” Gupta stated. The MeerKAT telescope will begin performing at full capability in 2018, however it’s already producing information from its 16 to 32 dishes. Over 5 years, MALS will produce 4 petabyte (PB) of uncooked information and 12 PB of science information merchandise i.e. photos and spectra.

“The main challenge is to deal with this large amount of data in terms of transfer from South Africa to IUCAA and then process it,” Gupta defined. However, there are alternatives for the Indian and South African software program trade on this Big Data problem. “Traditional methods of data processing will not scale to petabytes of data from next generation astronomy projects. A close collaboration with SKA South Africa has been set up to deal with this challenge. For MALS, we are exploring new methods of data processing that lie at the crossroads of traditional astronomy, applied mathematics, and computer science technologies,” he stated.

A radio astronomy information processing and archiving facility is being set-up on the IUCAA to mechanically course of and serve the info from MALS. “Both the data processing facility and the big data solutions will be made publicly available to community.” he stated. Gupta stated it’s a win-win scenario for each nations. “The telescopes are remembered for the discoveries they make and by setting up teams involving scientists across the world, the MeerKAT can be used to the best of its capacity.”

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