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China, Japan, South Korea build world's largest radio telescope array

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Scientists from China, Japan and South Korea have begun using what is now the world's largest radio telescope array, a network of 19 radio telescopes across East Asia, including one in Kunming.

Goals of the East Asia Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) observation network include learning more about the structure of the Milky Way and supermassive black holes. VLBI observation systems typically consist of three or more radio telescope stations and one data processing center.

China's domestic network is managed by the China Academy of Social Sciences and consists of radio telescopes in Beijing, Shanghai, Urumqi and Kunming, with its data processing center in Shanghai.

Combined with 12 radio telescopes in Japan and three in South Korea, the East Asia VLBI network covers an area about 6,000 kilometers in diameter, making it the world's largest observation network of its kind. When combined with Japan's Kaguya circumlunar satellite, the telescope array's diameter is expanded to 24,000 kilometers.

South Korean and Japanese scientists are building a computer to be used for processing observation data in a Seoul-based facility. The East Asia VLBI program is expected to be fully operational in 2010.

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