Scientists expect astronomical breakthroughs with FAST

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BEIJING, April 3 (Xinhua) -- An international team of astronomers are making observation plans for the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), by far the largest telescope ever built, expecting discoveries to change human understanding of the universe.

The telescope, located in a naturally deep and round karst depression in southwest China's Guizhou Province, was completed in September 2016, and is now under commissioning, with normal operation to commence later in 2019, according to the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC).

During testing and early science operation, FAST has started making astronomical discoveries, particularly pulsars of various kinds, including millisecond pulsars, binaries and gamma-ray pulsars, said Li Di, chief scientist of the Radio Astronomy Division of NAOC.

FAST is the world's most sensitive radio telescope.

Scientists have proposed ambitious observational objectives through FAST, such as gravitational waves, exoplanets, ultra-high energy cosmic rays and interstellar matter, to advance human knowledge of astronomy, astrophysics and fundamental physics.

An international team of scientists' plans on how to best apply the unprecedented power of the FAST radio telescope were recently published in a mini-volume of Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics, an NAOC journal.

"Planning new observations to find new targets and new kinds of objects beyond the reach of existing facilities is one of the most exciting jobs of a professional astronomer," Li said. Enditem

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