Donegal man helped design massive telescope which collected sounds from distant galaxy

Donegal man helped design massive telescope which collected sounds from distant galaxy

An Irish scientist has helped design a massive telescope which has helped astronomers collect mysterious sounds from a distant galaxy.

What the sounds are or why they were caused is still unknown.

But the group of scientists, who are based in Canada, say the radio waves come from a staggering 1.5 billion light years away.

Donegal man Jojo Boyle is a scientist and manager of the group which is based in Montreal which has helped design the CHIMES project which made the discovery.

His role was to manage the construction of the telescope and the supercomputer systems.

He also managed the development of the software that processes the data from the telescope.

Mr Boyle gave some indication of the complexity of building such a huge telescope.

He revealed "CHIME is a marvel of modern technology. It produces and searches through over 100 million GigaBytes of data per day - more data than is used by all the mobile phones in the world.

"A hundred-million Gigabytes is too much data to store, so it must be processed in real time on a supercomputer that has been built inside five shipping containers right under the telescope.

Even over this short distance, it takes almost 200km of fibre optic cable to move this enormous amount of data from the telescope to the shipping containers – enough to stretch all the way from Glencolmcille to Fanad – imagine this could solve all of Donegal’s broadband issues!

Mr Boyle said he is looking forward to returning to his native Dungloe in West Donegal in March to speak to students about his work.

Over the past 25 years, he has worked on and managed many world-class science projects, some for NASA and most in remote places like Arizona, Antarctica, the Arctic and now Canada.

"I am looking forward to coming home in March and am excited to visit our local schools to talk my work as it is important to show young people that, even if you are from Donegal, the sky is not necessarily the limit," he said.

The CHIME observatory, located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, consists of four 100-metre-long, semi-cylindrical antennas, which scan the entire northern sky each day.

The telescope only got up and running last year, detecting 13 of the radio bursts almost immediately, including the repeater.


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