Canada's New Radio Telescope Starts Mapping The Universe

New Canadian telescope will map largest volume of space ever surveyed

"The new telescope will be a destination for astronomers from around the world who will work with their Canadian counterparts to answer some of the most profound questions about space", said Duncan.

On Sept. 7, The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, installed the final piece of this new radio telescope, which will act as a time machine allowing scientists to create a three-dimensional map of the universe extending deep into space and time.

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, known as CHIME, is described as an extraordinarily powerful telescope, and is expected to help scientists better understand the history of the universe, the nature of distant stars and the detection of gravitational waves.

By using the telescope to measure the composition of dark energy-a mysterious entity that counteracts gravity and pushes matter apart, responsible for the rapid expansion of the universe-scientists hope to comprehend the shape, structure and fate of the universe.

The largest radio telescope in the country, CHIME, was inaugurated near Kaleden, British Columbia.

The CHIME radio telescope occupies a space equivalent to that of five National Hockey League ice rinks.

To make sense of all that data, the systems underpinning CHIME have to compress that data stream by a factor of 100,000 just to be able to save it to disk.

Seven quadrillion computer operations occur every second on CHIME. "This is about better understanding how the universe began and what lies ahead", said Mark Halpern, a principal investigator with CHIME.

The data accumulated from CHIME over the time shall have practical applications in future and the universe as we know it might be perceived through a different and more approachable aspect. This is a fundamental part of physics that we don't understand and it's a deep mystery.

Figure showing the extent of the mapping CHIME scientists are proposing of radio waves that have travelled between 6 billion to 11 billion years through the Universe before reaching Earth. A massive supercomputer is used to process incoming radio light and digitally piece together an image of the radio sky. But dark energy is different than any of these components and seems to play with gravity in a odd way.

You can expect to hear much more about CHIME in the coming months and years as it gets to work charting the dimensions of deep space and trying to gather more data about the parts of the Universe that have puzzled experts for years.

Gary Hinshaw of the University of BC explained dark energy in Universe like throwing a ball in the air and having it fly away from Earth instead of falling back.

And if we can understand more about how that expansion has worked itself out, we might be able to learn more about what's causing it: dark energy, perhaps.

This telescope cost only $ 16 million.

"We're very happy to have this available to us and it's a real boon I think for Canada", says Hinshaw.

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