Murchison Widefield Array

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an international project to create and operate a ground-breaking low-frequency radio telescope.

Led by Curtin University, the MWA has been game-changer for Australian astrophysics and radio engineering. As an example of a collaboration between global research institutes, multi-national organisations, and Australian enterprises, the project has driven both fundamental and applied scientific research, and inspired a diversity of engineering and technical innovation.

Since mid-2013, when the MWA began scanning the Earth’s southern skies, the project has supported a trove of scientific achievements. These include the breakthrough discovery of new ionospheric structures in the Earth’s atmosphere, involvement in the world’s first detection of gravitational waves and radiation from a neutron star merger, and the creation of a catalogue of 300,000 galaxies and the first radio-colour panorama of the universe in the GLEAM all-sky survey.

The telescope is maintained and remotely operated by a small team based at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy.

The MWA’s particular attributes include:

  • a very wide field of view (hundreds of square degrees)
  • high angular resolution (several arcminutes)
  • wide frequency range (70–300 MHz) with flexible tuning
  • extreme (digital) pointing agility

The MWA’s unprecedented capabilities also underpin its critical role as the ‘low-frequency precursor’ instrument of the A$1 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. Currently in development, the SKA will be the world’s largest radio telescope, designed to solve the deepest mysteries of the Universe.

For more information, visit the Murchison Widefield Array website.