Published by the editorial team, 12 October 2017

Astronomers from The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics of the University of Toronto in Canada have received an award of $10 million from the Canada Foundation of Innovation to build a radio astronomy data centre. International partners include observatories and researchers at various universities and research institutes, including the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON).

This new award will allow Canada to play a major role in the Very Large Array Sky Survey (VLASS), an ambitious new project to make a radio map of almost the entire sky in unprecedented detail. It will also help build the Canadian capacity needed to participate in what will be the largest and most powerful radio telescope ever constructed: the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Next-generation radio telescopes such as the SKA will produce an incredible flood of information. The SKA has been widely identified as one of the major ‘Big Data’ challenges for the next decade. The Dunlap Institute will be leading a project to build the infrastructure, computing capability, and expertise needed to process the data of existing facilities and prepare for the SKA. The goal of this radio astronomy data centre is to turn raw data into images and catalogues that astronomers can use to investigate cosmic magnetism, the evolution of galaxies, cosmic explosions, and more.

“This announcement is really excellent news. The data challenges in radio astronomy today are global, so it’s important that we work together as a community to solve them. We are already working with our Canadian partners as part of the EC H2020 AENEAS project to develop the data infrastructure we will need for the SKA, and this new award will provide an important addition to that global effort,” says Michael Wise, head of the astronomy group at ASTRON.

Other partners of the project include US National Radio Astronomy Observatory, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, the National Research Council, Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA)the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), McGill University, Queen’s University, University of British Columbia, Cornell University, University of Minnesota, Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape, and University of California Berkeley.



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