The municipality of Aguiar, in the interior of Paraíba, is getting ready to connect with the universe. The city of just over 5,000 inhabitants, according to figures from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), was chosen to receive the Bingo radio telescope (Baryon Acoustic Oscillations from Integrated Neutral Gas Observations, in English), international project led by Brazil, in partnership with eight other countries: China, South Korea, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, South Africa and Switzerland.
The telescope’s intention is to help clarify two still mysterious phenomena in cosmology and astrophysics: dark energy and fast radio bursts. fast radio bursts – FRBs).
The general coordinator of Bingo, Élcio Abdalla, from the Physics Institute of the University of São Paulo (USP), says that the project is aligned with avant-garde science. “Cosmology research today is very focused on the dark sector of the universe – which is perhaps the most relevant question in physics. The universe has 95% of a dark part that cannot be explained and Bingo, through observation, can provide very relevant links to this issue”, he explains. “It can indicate whether or not there is a complex structure in this dark part. It can be something very simple, like fluids distributed in the universe, as it can have an interaction – which would imply a real revolution, in terms of physical knowledge”, he says.
About the rapid bursts of radio, which were also discovered in the last 20 years, Abdalla says that Bingo will be able to propose suggestions about what might be these very intense and mysterious sources of energy in the Universe. “It will be a second problem of enormous interest in the case of astrophysics.”
For a mission of this magnitude, it is necessary to have a clear sky and without so much electromagnetic interference. That’s where Aguiar comes in, located in the Piancó Valley and about 400 kilometers from the capital, João Pessoa. The city was selected after searching for locations that met these requirements, both in Brazil and Uruguay.
“It has to be a place with enormous purity of observation, because it is a very difficult observation. What we’re going to look at is 30 to 40 orders of magnitude smaller than everything we see. So it can’t have any electromagnetic noise. In the interior of Paraíba, it is excellent to do this, in addition to having a very good interaction in the state with the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG), with excellent teams in the area”, justifies Abdalla.
In addition to the participation of UFCG, the project also has researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP) and the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).
Bingo, which will be supported by another radio telescope (named Uirapuru), should go into tests later this year and will be in operation by the end of 2022. To follow all the steps of the international project, just visit the website of the Bingo.
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