Named after a nearby rock formation, Mopra radio telescope is helping us to learn about the structure of galaxies and how stars form.

A single 22-metre diameter antenna used for radio astronomy research, our Mopra telescope is located near the town of Coonabarabran in north-west New South Wales. It is one of three instruments that make up the Australia Telescope National Facility.

Research with Mopra radio telescope

Mopra is operated only during the cooler months of the year (from April to October) when the atmosphere is at its most stable. It is used primarily for large-scale millimetre-wavelength mapping projects. The millimetre-wave band allows us to observe clouds of cold interstellar gas and dust, and is an important way we learn about how stars form and about the composition and structure of galaxies.

Mopra radio telescope, part of the Australia Telescope National Facility.

Recent research with Mopra has included the Millimetre Astronomy Legacy Team 90GHz survey, which mapped the physical conditions, chemical state, and evolutionary state of over 2000 high mass star-forming regions in the southern sky.

In addition to being used as a single antenna, Mopra is also used as part of a large-scale telescope arrangement called the Long Baseline Array. The Long Baseline Array utilises the Australia Telescope National Facility telescopes (Parkes, Compact Array and Mopra), and the Hobart and Ceduna antennas operated by the University of Tasmania, by employing a technique known as very long baseline interferometry. The signals from each of the antennas are correlated to create high-resolution images.

All observing with Mopra is done remotely – and is possible from anywhere in the world. From October 2012 the telescope has been operated with funding from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Adelaide.

There is no public access to Mopra radio telescope.

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