The KAT is purring: SA’s new radio telescope starts delivering quality science
June 9, 2013 Editor 0
South Africa’s first radio telescope array, the seven dish KAT-7 located in the Karoo, which was originally intended to be mainly an engineering prototype for the much larger MeerKAT array, has now established itself as an effective scientific instrument. The first scientific paper produced from research using KAT-7 was released online on Thursday by the UK journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (which is one of the oldest and most prestigious scientific journals in the world, and has been in continual publication for some 186 years).
A team of local and overseas astronomers used KAT-7 in parallel with the 26 m dish at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) west of Pretoria to observe the Circinus X-1 binary star system. The two instruments observed Circinus X-1 at the same time but at different frequencies.
This binary star system is composed of a star similar to our sun and a neutron star (which is the extremely compact – about 20 km in diameter – but incredibly dense remnant of a massive star that exploded into a supernova). They orbit each other in an elliptical orbit, with a period of 16.5 days
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