New Universe map unearths 300000 more galaxies

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 20, 2019

A new map of the night sky published Tuesday charts hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies discovered using a telescope that can detect light sources optical instruments cannot see.

To create the map, the team of more than 200 astronomers from 18 countries used a high-tech telescope capable of detecting otherwise invisible light sources.

The worldwide team behind the unprecedented space survey said their discovery literally shed new light on some of the Universe's deepest secrets, including the physics of black holes and how clusters of galaxies evolve.

"This is a new window on the universe", astronomer Cyril Tasse told AFP.

The team collected over 10 million DVDs of data by using a Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope. Each antenna receives radio waves admitted by celestial objects, which are processed by supercomputers to create new sky maps such as this. "It didn't look anything at all like what we are used to seeing". These jets can stretch over millions of light years.

"With radio observations we can detect radiation from the tenuous medium that exists between galaxies".

LOFAR can also help astronomers study black hole activity: The team's 26 research papers only covered the first two percent of the LOFAR telescope sky survey, however, the team has greater ambitions: Eventually, it would like to develop high-resolution pictures of the entire northern sky, which could disclose 15 million radio sources.

"LOFAR has a remarkable sensitivity and that allows us to see that these jets are present in all of the most massive galaxies, which means that their black holes never stop eating", said Philip Best, a professor of extragalactic astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh.

"The oldest objects in the universe are around 11-12 billion light years old", Tasse said.

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