The Warkworth Radio Astronomical Observatory is ready to be part of future scientific discoveries related to Nobel-prize winning work on gravitational waves.
In 1916, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of the waves.
A century later in September 2015, scientists from the Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States first detected the waves, which resulted from a merger of two black holes.
Since then, several wave events have been registered.
AUT Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research founder and director Professor Sergei Gulyaev says the Warkworth observatory ready to respond to the next event.
“If we receive a telegram we will put all other activity on hold to collect any radio emission we can,” Professor Gulyaev says.
“With the radio emission from these events we can work out which object the gravitational waves are coming from.”
He says it is currently unclear what applications research on this topic will have.
“Science is always one step ahead with its research, so who knows what this discovery could be used for in the future,” he says.
“In the past, research in Physics and Astronomy has been applied to things like laser equipment and medical imaging technology.”
The observatory in Warkworth may also be involved with the world’s largest scientific project, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
This involves over 10 countries who will manage large arrays of radio telescopes in Australia and South Africa.
The telescopes will be built between 2019 and the late 2020s and allow scientists to effectively look back to almost the beginning of time.
Professor Gulyaev says the Warkworth Observatory will likely be involved with the collection of data for this project.
The station’s other big project is tracking of SpaceX rockets owned by space and electric vehicle pioneer Elon Musk.
“They plan to do a lot more flights next year according to their schedule so our involvement with that is set to grow,” Professor Gulyaev says.
The Warkworth Observatory also hosts lectures for AUT students and does other work related to accurately measuring the earth’s tectonic plate movements.