Supplied by: SKA SA
Reaching for the stars
multi-million rand funding injection into the Hydro-
An innovative telescope
gen Epoch of Reionisation Array (HERA) telescope
This innovative telescope aims to detect the distinctive
will increase the possibility of detecting the first
signature that would allow astronomers to understand the
stars and galaxies ever to be created. Recently, the US National Science Foundation announced
the first stars and galaxies in the Universe. The HERA radio
a US$9.5 million (approximately R136 million) investment to
telescope follows in the footsteps of a precursor instrument
expand HERA’s capabilities.
called PAPER (Precision Array for Probing the Epoch of Reioni-
HERA is located only a few kilometres from the MeerKAT ra-
sation), also located in the Karoo.
dio telescope, which began initial science operations in July.
The much more sensitive HERA, operating in the Karoo
HERA, which was recently granted the status of a Square
with minimal man-made radio interference, will explore the
Kilometre Array (SKA) precursor telescope, currently has 19,
billion-year period after hydrogen gas collapsed into the
14-metre radio dishes at the SKA South Africa Losberg site
first galaxies, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang,
near Carnarvon in the Northern Cape. These radio dishes will
through the ignition of stars throughout the Universe – the
soon increase to 37. The US$9.5 million in funding will allow
first structures of the Universe we observe today.
the array to expand to 220 radio dishes by 2018.
formation and evolution of the very first luminous sources:
“The Universe was formed in a hot Big Bang of particles
Public Sector Manager • December 2016 / January 2017