A Radio Telescope To Study Signals From Universe’s Dark Ages

Last Updated: March 14, 2023, 19:05 IST

The radio telescope will be launched in late 2025.

The radio telescope will be launched in late 2025.

LuSEE-Night is a pathfinder that might be able to study the signals from Dark Ages.

People interested in the universe have always been curious about the ancient past of the celestial bodies. Now, scientists are a step closer to finding the key to unlocking it. In a few years’ time, a small radio telescope located on the far side of the moon has the potential to assist scientists in observing the distant past of the universe. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories are developing what is called the Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment-Night (LuSEE-Night). This moon instrument is begging prepared also in collaboration with the Space Science Laboratory at the University of California and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, reported Space.com.

What will LuSEE-Night do after it touches down on the moon’s far side? Well, the answer to that is simple: it will attempt to gather measurements from what is called the “Dark Ages” of the universe. This is the first-of-their-kind measurement that the scientists will be able to get their hands on if they are able to stay on track with the current schedule to launch. That is, it will be launched on a private robotic lunar lander in late 2025.

“So far, we can only make predictions about earlier stages of the universe using a benchmark called the cosmic microwave background. The Dark Ages Signal would provide a new benchmark,” said Brookhaven physicist Anže Slosar, as quoted by News Wise. “And if predictions based on each benchmark don’t match, that means we’ve discovered new physics.”

According to Space.com, the Dark Ages denotes a period at the beginning of the cosmos, lasting from approximately 400,000 to 400 million years following the occurrence of the Big Bang. To put it into perspective this is the time before stars and galaxies began to fully form.

To unlock the mysteries, LuSEE-Night will land on what is known as the “dark side of the moon.” News Wise shared that it is scientifically known as “the lunar far side”. Despite its name, it isn’t eternally dark. In fact, it is called so because of its inability to be seen from Earth. During a cycle of 28 Earth days, it experiences complete darkness for 14 days and then encounters intense sunlight for the next 14 days. As a result, there are significant temperature changes, ranging from 250 to -280 degrees Fahrenheit. What makes the matter more interesting is that it can happen in a matter of hours.

As one may understand, it is hard to conduct scientific experiments in such harsh environments. LuSEE-Night is set to use antennas onboard, radio receivers, and a spectrometer to measure faint radio waves from the Dark Ages. This is what the scientists are calling the Dark Ages Signal.

However, it should be emphasized that LuSEE-Night will not necessarily achieve significant advancements entirely on its own. As a pathfinder, it is primarily intended to lay the groundwork for more ambitious instruments that will be developed in the future.

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