South Africa has given the go-ahead for a radio telescope that will detect fast radio bursts as well as track neutral hydrogen gas on cosmic scales. Costing R70 million ($5m), the Hydrogen Intensity and Real Time Analysis eXperiment (HIRAX) will consist of 1024 dishes, each 6 m in diameter.
It will be located in the Karoo region of South Africa and will map about a third of the sky during four years of operation.
One of the most important aims of this new radio telescope will be to pinpoint the location of fast radio bursts, that are so brief that most telescope can’t localize them.
HIRAX, the new radio telescope, and its large field of view will allow astronomers to observe large portions of the sky daily so, in principle, when the flashes happen the instrument will be more likely to see them.
HIRAX will require a petascale computer to process up to 6.5 terabits of data per second as well as infrastructure to compress this data by a factor of 50–100.
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