Astronomers have cataloged a million previously unexplored galaxies using a radio telescope. The high-resolution images obtained were put together in an impressive celestial world map that allows a virtual trip to millions of light-years from our Milky Way.
The astronomers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia have completed “the most detailed study of the southern sky ever conducted by radio waves”.
Astronomers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia have completed “the most detailed study of the southern sky ever conducted using radio waves.”
With the help of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) Radio Telescope, they obtained 903 images of galaxies observed from the southern hemisphere in the radio magnetic spectrum. They were then turned into a sky map covering the entire observing area.
You can take the virtual trip through the Australian night sky on this page.
The panorama of the sky in radio waves has been astonishing and familiar to those who often raise their heads to see the night sky. Only there’s one difference: on the CSIRO map, each bright point represents an entire galaxy instead of a star.
Hotan, being one of the authors of the study, points out that, unlike previous research in the field of radio astronomy, which could last for years, his team managed to complete the work in less than two weeks and obtain images five times more sensitive and twice as detailed as the previous ones.
In total, the ASKAP telescope identified around 3 million galaxies, which is “considerably more than the 260,000 galaxies identified in the Molonglo Sky Survey [the galaxy catalog made on the basis of radio frequencies by the University of Sydney in late 2006. ]”. It is a remarkable advance in space exploration and in the next few years, it is expected that more studies will be done with ASKAP at different frequencies of the spectrum.
Maps of the night sky are of great importance to astronomy because they help scientists discover how certain galaxies behave, for example, if they exist in clusters or if they drift solitary through space.
Another unsolved question at the moment is how the galaxies became the elliptical, spiral, or irregular shapes that we see today.
According to one of the modern theories, large galaxies grow by merging many smaller ones, but it is impossible to see this process with the naked eye or to do this type of simulation. This is where radio telescopes are needed that “can see across great distances and accurately map everything it encounters.”