Why is this Research Important?

The research of Bob McMahon and his group is important because it can help astronomers identify some of the molecules found in space. Astronomers often use special telescopes called radio telescopes. Radio telescopes are shaped like huge bowls. There are radio telescopes all around the world collecting radio waves from space with their antennas. These special telescopes are able to recognize different kinds of space objects, such as stars, planets, and distant galaxies because of the wavelength of "light" energy they absorb. The information gained from these studies allows astronomers to compare the data they get from their radio telescopes to the data Professor McMahon and his students get from the lab. If the data for the molecule in space matches a molecule studied in the lab, astronomers can tell what molecules are present in space, even though they have not gone there themselves to retrieve them. Identifying these distant galaxies and space objects allows scientists to look back in time and get an idea of what the early universe was like, and where and how life started.

Joddrell Bank - World's largest fully steerable radio telescope

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