A 12-metre radio telescope in New Zealand has joined up with five in Australia to produce images ten times more detailed than those of the Hubble Space Telescope.
The collaboration was enabled by a recently established 1 Gbps Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN) connection, which transfers data across the Tasman Sea.
Already, the telescope network has been used to image the heart of a galaxy called Centaurus A, which is 14 million light-years away and contains a supermassive black hole.
Observing the galaxy for ten hours, each of the six telescopes recorded up to 10 Tb of data. This was transmitted to Perth's Curtin University of Technology via KAREN and the 10 Gbps AARNET.
At Curtin, the data was processed on a local 160-core Beowulf cluster comprising a 100 Tb spinning disk and supported by petabyte storage at the iVEC supercomputing centre.
The cluster consolidated and processed the data into a final data set a "few" gigabytes in size, according to Curtin professor Steven Tingay.
Researchers said the new image of Centaurus A had a resolution 100,000 times higher than than that of the previous most detailed image of the galaxy, which was made by the CSIRO last year.
The Auckland University of Technology's (AUT) Warkworth telescope was the newest member of the Australasian Square Kilometre Array (SKA) team, which is bidding against Southern Africa to host the international telescope array in 2012.
Other telescopes used in the link-up were three CSIRO facilities in New South Wales, CSIRO's Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in WA and a University of Tasmania dish near Hobart.
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