Space Peeps Freak Out At First Pics From SA’s ‘World Leading Telescope’
Story from: 2oceansvibe.com
There’s nothing like having a bunch of random irregular dots photographed against a black backdrop explained to you. It’s like looking deep into the universe, man.
Okay, that’s precisely what it is.
You may know that South Africa is home to a really powerful radio telescope, part of the international SKA project. On Saturday, although still under construction, the telescope named MeerKAT gave us a taste of just what is to come, releasing its “first-light” image.
The details show a patch of sky covering less that 0.01% of the entire celestial sphere, revealing 1 300 galaxies in just one tiny corner of the universe where, get this, just 70 had been seen before. Amaaazing, ne?
Here’s the image:
And here’s the image’s explanation:
Each white dot represents the intensity of radio waves recorded with 16 dishes of the MeerKAT telescope. This view shows 10 percent of the full MeerKAT “first-light” radio image. Over 200 astronomical radio sources (white dots) are visible in this image, where prior to MeerKAT only five were known (indicated by violet circles).
Only 16 of MeerKAT’s full contingent of 64 dishes are scanning the skies, although the rest should be doing the same by late 2017.
In a statement, Justin Jonas, chief technologist at SKA South Africa, said:
Based on the results being shown today, we are confident that after all 64 dishes are in place, MeerKAT will be the world’s leading telescope of its kind until the advent of SKA.
The SKA project has over 20 countries as members, and it seeks to have a total collecting area of one square kilometer by having an array of 3 000 dishes spread across several countries. This would make it the largest and most sensitive operating radio telescope in the world.
Rob Adam, Project Director of SKA, had a few things to add:
Through MeerKAT, South Africa is playing a key role in the design and development of technology for the SKA. The South African team of more than 200 young scientists, engineers and technicians, in collaboration with industry, local and foreign universities and institutions, has developed the technologies and systems for MeerKAT. These include cutting edge telescope antennas and receivers, signal processing, timing, telescope management, computing and data storage systems, and algorithms for data processing.
Here’s another image, explanation below:
A montage of MeerKAT’s “first-light” radio image and four zoomed-in insets. The two panels to the right show distant galaxies with massive black holes at their centers. At lower left is a galaxy approximately 200 million light years away, where hydrogen gas is being used up to form stars in large numbers.
It is so exciting to see such a project being undertaken in South Africa, giving young scientists the opportunity to work on a project with such monumental value.
At least there’s something great going on somewhere in the world.
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