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China starts operation on world’s largest single-dish radio telescope

China has finalised the world’s biggest radio telescope, whose 503m (1650-feet)-wide dish will scan the heavens for signs of intelligent alien life, among other tasks.

With a dish the size of 30 football fields, Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) is by far the largest single-aperture telescope in the world (though arrays that link up multiple radio dishes cover more ground). The previous record holder in the field is the 300m (1000-feet)-wide Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

FAST was built in China’s Guizhou Province, more than 2000 kilometres southwest of Beijing. The US$180-million facility should help scientists learn more about the Universe’s early days, detect low-frequency gravitational waves and hunt for signals that may have been produced by distant alien civilisations.

FAST will explore the Universe at radio frequencies, detecting emission from hydrogen gas in the Milky Way and other distant galaxies, finding faint galactic and extragalactic pulsars, and searching for potential radio signals from extraterrestrials (Image courtesy:


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