Africa Millimeter Wave Telescope

The Africa Millimeter Telescope (AMT) is a proposed 15 meter ground-based telescope, and the very first millimeter wave telescope in Africa. The world tends to hyperfocus on NASA and ESA based work; I chose to cover this topic because it just got the greenlight and such a build is historic for African people. About 80% of the observing time will be undertaken by local Namibians, who are forming their own outreach/educational programs that further enhance the social and economic influence of the project to boost local innovation. The AMT is a development between the Netherlands’ Radboud University and the University of Namibia.

Please consider helping the outreach efforts of the partnership by donating here!

A decommissioned telescope from La Silla, Chile has been donated by the European Southern Observatory and the Onsala Space Observatory. It will be moved to Namibia and then refurbished by IRAM (Institute of Millimeter Astronomy), who have developed and maintained the 30-meter telescope located on the Pico Veleta near Granada, Spain, and the NOEMA interferometer (currently an array of eleven 15-meter telescopes) in the Alps; these are two of the most powerful millimeter wave observatories in the world.

AMT will be added in the Event Horizon Telescope array, which imaged a black hole (in galaxy M87) for the first time in 2019. By increasing the number of telescopes in the array, the network can gather more data to produce better images, even video. One of the EHT’s goals is to image and record Sagitarrius A*, the black hole in the center of our Milky Way galaxy. EHT hopes that the wider bandwidth will lead to better understanding of the processes that underlie the behavior of these objects, including the formation of highly energetic jets and process of superradiant scattering. The AMT will also operate as a singular telescope, which is also a first for Africa. As it was designed to monitor millimeter waves, the AMT will be able to observe variations in the brightness of black holes as part of a larger international collaboration starting with the local HESS in Namibia and as far as the CTA in Chile.

The telescope will be sustainably powered by solar. Hydrogen is being considered as an additional green power source.

Here is a model of the AMT within the EHT array:

Radboud AMT site:

https://www.ru.nl/astrophysics/black-hole/africa-millimetre-telescope/

EurekAlert piece on the Radboud-UNAM partnership for the AMT:

https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/936169

Leave a Reply