Radio telescope to map largest volume of space ever surveyed

(From UBC Science) A Canadian effort to build one of the most innovative radio telescopes in the world will open the universe to a new dimension of scientific study. The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, today 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 an extraordinarily powerful new telescope. The unique “half-pipe” telescope design and advanced computing power will help scientists better understand the three frontiers of modern astronomy: the history of the universe, radio bursts from pulsars and the detection of gravitational waves.

By measuring the composition of dark energy, scientists will better understand the shape, structure and fate of the universe. In addition, CHIME will be a key instrument to study gravitational waves, the ripples in space-time that were only recently discovered, confirming the final piece of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

“With the CHIME telescope we will measure the expansion history of the universe and we expect to further our understanding of the mysterious dark energy that drives that expansion ever faster."

CHIME is a collaboration among 50 Canadian scientists from the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). The $16-million investment for CHIME was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the governments of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, with additional funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The telescope is located in the mountains of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley at the NRC’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penticton.

“With the CHIME telescope we will measure the expansion history of the universe and we expect to further our understanding of the mysterious dark energy that drives that expansion ever faster. This is a fundamental part of physics that we don’t understand and it’s a deep mystery. This is about better understanding how the universe began and what lies ahead," said UBC astrophysicist Mark Halpern.

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