CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope situated about 800 km north of Perth, in the Murchison region of Western Australia. ASKAP uses novel technology to achieve extremely high survey speed, making it one of the best instruments in the world for mapping the sky at radio wavelengths.
Funding for ASKAP by CSIRO and the NCRIS Program (via AAL) ensures:
- continued operation of ASKAP telescope for the benefit of astronomical research.
- continued researcher access to ASKAP with high level of availability and reliability.
- improved access for researchers to ASKAP data and software resources.
- sustaining flow of high impact science from ASKAP.
- maintaining and expanding Australian capability in radio astronomy technology
- An Australian-led collaboration called the CRAFT (Commensal Real-time ASKAP Fast Transients) survey has been working hard to uncover more about the nature of Fast Radio Burst (FRBs) by pinpointing their exact locations within their host galaxies, something that only ASKAP can do routinely due to its combination of a wide field of view plus excellent spatial resolution. Using just the first half-dozen FRBs localised by ASKAP, the CRAFT team were able to show that the so-called “missing” baryonic matter does in fact exist in the form of hot, diffuse ionised plasma, located in the space between galaxies (Macquart et al. 2020, Nature, 581, 391).
- The CRAFT team’s earlier first-ever localisation of a non-repeating FRB (Bannister et al. 2019, Science, 365, 565) was awarded the 2020 Newcomb Cleveland Prize by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “the most impactful research paper published in the journal Science” in the past year.
- On 1 Dec 2020 the Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey (RACS) was released. RACS is the first large-area survey completed with the full 36-dish ASKAP, taking just weeks instead of years to map 83% of the entire sky.
- Astronomers studying pilot survey data from the Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) have found a number of mysterious faint round features they dub “Odd Radio Circles” (ORCs), whose origin is currently a mystery.