Australian telescope maps deep space at record speed

Australian telescope maps deep space at record speed


Melbourne: The Australian National Science Agency said on Tuesday that a powerful new telescope in the outback of Australia has mapped out a vast picture of the universe in record-breaking time, revealed a million new galaxies, and opened the way for new discoveries.

This radio telescope worth 188 million Australian dollars (138 million US dollars) is called the “Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder” (ASKAP) and is capable of mapping about 3 million galaxies in just 300 hours. In comparison, the survey of the sky has been as long as 10 years.

Astronomer David McConnell said: “This is indeed a game changer.

Using the receiver designed by CSIRO, the unique feature of this telescope is its wide field of view, which can take panoramic photos of the sky more clearly than before.

Compared with other all-sky radio surveys that require tens of thousands of images, the telescope only needs to combine 903 images to draw the sky.

“It is more sensitive than previous surveys that have covered the whole sky like this, so we do see more objects than have been seen in the past,” McConnell told Reuters.

Having a telescope that can survey the sky in a few weeks or months means the process can be repeated again and again in a relatively short space of time, allowing astronomers to systematically spot and track changes.

“Even with this first pass we’ve got right now, compared with previous images, we’ve already found some unusual objects,” McConnell said, including some unusual stars that undergo violent outbursts.

He said data gathered in this survey would allow astronomers to find out more about star formation and how galaxies and black holes evolve through statistical analyses.

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

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