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First ‘Christmas tree’ antennas installed on SKA-Low telescope

The first of the 130,000 Christmas tree-shaped antennas that will make up the SKA-Low radio telescope in WA has been installed.

The installation of the 2 metre-high devices is a significant milestone in the construction of the site, which is currently scheduled to end in July 2029.

When complete, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Observatory will be the largest radio telescope ever built and will work in tandem with a partner observatory being built in South Africa.

Researchers hope to use it to explore the first billion years after the so-called dark ages of the Universe when the first stars and galaxies formed.


Professor Phillip Diamond, the SKAO’s director general, said astronomers had been “dreaming of this project for decades”, and laying the first antennas was a “proud moment for us all”.

“These telescopes are next-generation instruments, allowing us to test Einstein’s theories and to observe space in more detail than ever before,” he said.

“With this telescope in Australia, we will watch the births and deaths of the first stars and galaxies, giving us invaluable clues about how the Universe evolved.”

Construction on the project began in 2022 at the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory site in Wajarri country, Western Australia.


When complete, the telescope will cover roughly an entire square kilometre, with 131,072 antennas to be built across the site.

The antennas at the Murchison Observatory, which is classified as “SKA-Low”, will be used in tandem with the 197 dishes that will be built at a site in Karoo in South Africa, which is dubbed “SKA-Mid”.

A core goal of the SKA is to map the structure of the fledgling Universe for the first time and help astronomers understand how galaxy formation began.

Australia-based SKA-Low Telescope Director Dr Sarah Pearce said, “The telescopes are like time machines. We’ll see things we’ve never been able to see in the history of humanity. 

“It may not look like other telescopes you’ve seen. But the SKA-Low telescope in Australia will be able to map the sky more than 100 times faster than other state-of-the-art telescopes and will be so sensitive that it can detect the faintest radio signals that have travelled billions of light years across space.”

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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