Recently, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) successfully created its first image using six antennas together, using the antennas as two different arrays of three antennas.
Now the ASKAP commissioning team and colleagues from CSIRO are preparing the ASKAP supercomputer or correlator to process images from these six test antennas as a single array by physically recabling and connecting the system and updating the needed software.
ASKAP is a 36-antenna array of radio dishes built in the Murchison in Western Australia as one of three prototype telescopes – called precursors – for the SKA. ASKAP is currently undergoing advanced testing to prepare the array for science observations.
Combining data received from multiple dishes at the same time is a clever technique often used in radio astronomy called interferometry, which allows to simulate a larger telescope and avoid the engineering challenges and cost associated with building a single larger dish.
Using all six antennas together as a single array will result in four times more data output from the correlator, and will greatly increase the telescope’s sensitivity and resolution.
Read the full release from CSIRO here.