The most detailed and fastest survey of the southern sky has helped map about a million previously undiscovered galaxies. Using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder radio telescope, scientists at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, have reduced the time to complete such an intense space exploration from a few years to less than two weeks.
The study, published in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia on Monday, reports the first results of a rapid survey of the ASKAP continuum by CSIRO. The agency describes the survey as a “Google map” of the universe, providing the most detailed atlas of the southern sky.
The key to the new atlas is ASKAP, not a single telescope, but a set of 36 dish-shaped antennas located in the Western Australian desert. The array listens for radio waves from deep space and can see an area of the sky about 30 times larger than other modern radio arrays.
With over 900 images taken over approximately 300 hours, the team produced a complete map of the southern sky at a higher resolution than previous surveys. The images contain a total of 70 billion pixels, and the data contains 3 million galaxies, a third of which are new to science.
The map will allow astronomers to study space objects such as supernovae, pulsars, and jets around supermassive black holes in distant galaxies.
“ASKAP applies the latest advances in science and technology to longstanding questions about the mysteries of the universe and provides astronomers around the world with new discoveries to solve their problems,” said Larry Marshall, CEO of CSIRO in a press release.
For ASKAP, this is just the beginning. RACS was conceived almost as a testbed for what ASKAP will try to achieve. Over the next five years, the radio array will begin conducting ten major sky surveys, which will take about 1,500 hours per project. Some of these projects will explore the most mysterious phenomena at the very edge of the universe.
“We expect to find tens of millions of new galaxies in future surveys,” said David McConnell, CSIRO astronomer and lead author of the new study.
You can commit a virtual tour on an impressive map on the CSIRO website…
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