Mapping the Universe

The Universe is a vast entity, one which we as a species are fortunate to understand a small chunk of, in the grand scheme of things. The latest development in gaining cosmic knowledge comes from Canada. According to Engadget, Canada began tuning in to sounds of the universe on September 7th via their latest technology. The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, will aid in taking further steps in understanding things beyond the scope of our planet. This includes the history of the universe, radio bursts from pulsars, and gravitational waves, which are he waves in spacetime whose existence was confirmed at last in 2016 by scientists.

To the untrained eye, CHIME looks more like a skate park than a radio telescope. However, it was built this way in order to listen to weak signals from the universe and to gather up to 1 terabyte per second 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that the telescope is constantly creating a three-dimensional map of space.

When the project was first being crafted, the hardware for such technological demands simply did not exist. However, thanks to leaps and bounds in video game technology, scientists were about to go through with the project. But how does CHIME process all of this information? It compresses all of the information it collects into a factor of 100,000 before it ever begins to save the data onto disks.

So, what is the purpose of collecting so much information in such a short span of time? By doing all of this, CHIME is working towards measuring how fast the universe is expanding. In other words, CHIME is measuring the universe’s acceleration. If CHIME can manage to take these measurements accurately, scientists will gain a better understanding of what is causing the rapid expansion of the universe. Whether it is “dark energy” or something else entirely, CHIME will certainly aid in the field of interstellar exploration.

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About the Author: Nick Callen

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