PaST: Primeval Structure Telescope



The Primeval Structure Telescope (PaST), will be used to locate and study the earliest luminous objects in the universe, including the first stars, supernova explosions, and/or black holes. All of these objects were strong sources of Ultra-Violet radiation, so they ionized the material surrounding them: it is this ionization that we will detect and study.  The structure of this ionization reflects the overall density structure at the redshift of luminous-object formation.

Consisting of an array of some ten-thousand log-periodic antennae spread over several square kilometers, PaST will capture a detailed radio image of the sky in the range of fifty to two-hundred Mega-Hertz.  Naturally, this telescope must be located in a relatively remote area away from most television and radios signals that also make use of this band.  Current sites under consideration include Ulastai, China and Amundson-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. 

May, 2005:  With the frigid Tibetan Winter coming to an end, major construction at the PaST site in Ulastai, China is soon to resume.  Currently, about twenty pods of 127 antennae each are assembled, about twelve of which are calibrated and collecting data.  As the remaining pods are calibrated, work will continue on construction of more pods: it is expected that forty or more pods will be assembled, tested, and calibrated for data collection by the end of this Summer. 

Meanwhile, a small prototype was placed at the South Pole to test the level of terrestrial radio noise in that area over the Antarctic Winter.  Between the months of April and September, the South Pole receives virtually no Sunlight, reducing the reflectivity of the atmosphere.  Therefore, cosmic radio waves pass more freely through the atmosphere.  The prototype placed at the South Pole will allow us to compare this site to the site at Ulastai, China. 

The National Astronomical Observatories
Chinese Academy of Sciences

Canadian Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics
University of Toronto

Physics Department
Carnegie Mellon University