China's Largest Solar Radio Telescope Commences Operations
As the next solar activity peak approaches, Chinese scientists are fully prepared to embrace it. On the southwestern side of China, the research operation of the world's largest solar radio telescope, the Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT), has begun. With an array of 313 six-meter antennas arranged in a circle with a diameter of 3.14 kilometers, it will monitor our star's activity diligently, as reported by Space.com.
China is establishing the "Meridian" observation network to study solar activity. However, these new instruments will also observe other celestial objects, ranging from pulsars to near-Earth asteroids. Nevertheless, the primary focus will remain on the Sun. Interestingly, it wasn't until the 1970s that we learned about phenomena such as solar coronal mass ejections. Detecting solar material ejections from Earth using conventional observation methods is impossible, let alone determining the direction in which solar plasma is launched.
For near-Earth objects like satellites and spacecraft, the stream of high-energy particles from solar wind and coronal mass ejections can pose a threat. For instance, this has previously disrupted Starlink satellites' orbits, as they experienced deceleration in the flow of solar particles. Moreover, the quality of communication and navigation, and potentially the success of future expeditions, such as those to Mars, heavily depend on solar weather.
The Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT) antenna array complex in Daocheng City, Sichuan Province, was completed and put into operation at the end of the previous year. It underwent instrument tuning until summer and was formally launched on July 14. The 6-meter antennas work as one massive radio mirror with a diameter of 3.14 kilometers. All antennas are phased-array synchronized, and the algorithm collects signals from each of them to create high-resolution composite images.
The DSRT was developed by the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and is part of the "Meridian" project for monitoring space weather—a crucial national scientific and technical infrastructure in China.
It's worth noting that a mysterious radio source has been discovered in our galaxy, pulsating regularly every 21 minutes for three decades, forming a unique and unprecedented phenomenon never observed before in space. According to a study published in the journal Nature, these enigmatic signals likely originate from an exotic dead star located approximately 15,000 light-years from Earth.