With a unique view of the southern hemisphere sky across a broad spectrum of radio frequencies, the ATNF occupies an important place in international radio astronomy.
The ATNF operates four telescopes:
- the ASKAP radio telescope, located on Wajarri Yamaji Country at Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, our Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia: 36 individual 12-m antennas working together as a single instrument
- the Parkes radio telescope, Murriyang, on Wiradjuri Country: our iconic 64-metre telescope that’s also known as 'The Dish'
- the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA): a set of six 22-metre diameter antennas near Narrabri on Gomeroi Country
- the Long Baseline Array (LBA): a continental-scale network of radio telescopes. The LBA includes the above telescopes, the Mopra radio telescope, and the Hobart and Ceduna antennas operated by the University of Tasmania.
We own and operate the ATNF as a national research facility, funded by the Australian Government, for use by Australian and international researchers.
Science with the ATNF
The ATNF is Australia's largest single astronomy institution and conducts 90 per cent of Australian radio astronomy research. It is used to investigate a broad range of subjects – from the evolution of galaxies, magnetic fields and black holes to using pulsars, rapidly spinning neutron stars, to look for gravitational waves.
Research conducted with the ATNF has high-level impact. In an independent study, the Australia Telescope Compact Array ranked second, and the Murriyang radio telescope ranked third, among the world's radio telescopes in terms of the total number of citations to research papers.
Each year the facility is used by about 400 astronomers from more than 20 countries. Observers use the facility without charge in keeping with the general practice of the worldwide astronomy community, in which telescope users from different countries gain reciprocal access to facilities on the basis of merit.
Observing is done 24 hours a day, every day of the year, from our dedicated observing facilities or from users' own institutions. Researchers are granted observing time on the telescopes by a committee made up of expert assessors who review all applications and award time according to the merit of the proposed science program.
Technologies supporting the ATNF
Operating the ATNF requires skills and expertise in the design, construction and maintenance of highly complex technical systems, and in the scheduling of observing time, maintenance and upgrades.
We are also expert in areas such as:
- receiver systems
- signal processing
- data transfer and recording
- specialised software for radio astronomy – and many others.
Technical research and development supporting upgrades of the ATNF are conducted at our Space and Astronomy headquarters in Sydney.