About the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO)
The University of Arizona is the only university in the continental U.S. with its own radio telescope, a telescope that’s used to pick up on the radio wave signals in space. It detects naturally-occurring radio waves from celestial bodies like galaxies, comets, and black holes, and from manmade satellites. Radio telescopes can detect dark matter and other galaxies that traditional light telescopes cannot.
The ARO’s 12-meter radio telescope has an antenna that moves as fast as six degrees per second, with less than a second of settling time.In 2015, scientists used the Arizona Radio Observatory's 12-meter telescope to find a new cometary compound: interstellar methyl isocyanate, CH3NCO.
Additionally, the ARO has received a $1.4-million grant from the National Science Foundation to equip the 12-meter telescope for very long baseline experiments. “Very long baseline” interferometry is a technique astronomers are using to form images of the unseeable. Astronomers at different radio telescopes across the world observe the same target at the same time, recording data on hard drivers, and then using a supercomputer to combine the data and form an image.
The Submillimeter Telescope at the Mt. Graham International Observatory is already part of a network of radio telescopes that will use this technique to take the first picture of a black hole, and the new 12-Meter Alma Prototype Telescope on Kitt Peak will join the roster.