New Aussie Telescope Maps Millions of Galaxies

Desk Report

Published: 01 Dec 2020, 11:25 am

A million new galaxies have been mapped by Australian scientists using an advanced telescope in the desert, the national science agency CSIRO reports to the BBC.

His first survey of the entire southern sky was carried out by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), mapping approximately three million galaxies in 300 hours.

Astronomers hope that the images will contribute to new findings about the universe.

The CSIRO said the mapping took just 300 hours, whereas previous all-sky surveys had taken years.

With the data publicly available, scientists around the world would be able to study "everything from star formation to how galaxies and their super-massive black hole evolve and interact", said lead author Dr David McConnell.

The initial results were published on Tuesday in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

What is this telescope?

The ASKAP is a collection of 36 dish antennas which work together to take panoramas of the sky.

The system is based in Western Australia, a remote outback in the southern hemisphere. It is spread over an area of 6 km (3.7 miles) at the Murchison Observatory of CSIRO, about 700 km north of Perth.

The telescope produces high-resolution images at a fraction of the cost of one very large dish by integrating signals from smaller dishes, CSIRO said.

The huge volumes of data - generated at a faster rate than Australia's entire internet traffic - are then sent to supercomputer processing facility in Perth to create the images.

What has it found?

Askap conducted its first all-sky survey this year, covering 83% of the sky and covering three million galaxies all up.

Using only 903 highly detailed pictures, the map was stitched together. In order to complete an image of the sky, previous surveys required tens of thousands.

Astronomers said the depth and size were fascinating because they can perform statistical studies by cataloguing the millions of galaxies outside the Milky Way. These can help to understand how the universe has evolved and is organized.

The Askap telescope is one of the precursors to an international project to build the world's largest radio telescope - the Square Kilometre Array, to be located in South Africa and Australia.

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