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19 Feb, 2019 13:16

Dazzling new night map reveals 300,000 new galaxies

Dazzling new night map reveals 300,000 new galaxies

A staggering map of the night sky has revealed hundreds of thousands of new galaxies, shedding light on some of the universe’s biggest secrets. Some 300,000 previously unknown galaxies were charted using a powerful telescope.

“This is a new window on the universe,” astronomer Cyril Tasse told AFP. “When we saw the first images we were like: ‘What is this?!’ It didn't look anything at all like what we are used to seeing.”

The study saw over 200 astronomers from 18 countries come together to find the previously unseen light sources believed to be far off galaxies.

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The data gathered in the map is the equivalent to 10 million DVDs, and it only accounts for two percent of the sky.

The team used a Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope in the Netherlands to find ‘jets’ of ancient radiation created when galaxies merge. These jets can stretch over millions of light years. The telescope is so strong it can detect light sources that optical instruments can’t see.

“With radio observations we can detect radiation from the tenuous medium that exists between galaxies,” said astronomer Amanda Wilber. “LOFAR allows us to detect many more of these sources and understand what is powering them.”

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The exciting discovery may help scientists understand black holes better. Black holes emit radiation when they swallow matter like stars and the team believe they can use the new observation technique to compare black holes to see how they develop over time.

The team said they will create high-resolution images of all of the northern sky, which will reveal as many as 15 million undetected radio sources.

“The oldest objects in the Universe are around 11-12 billion light years old,” said Tasse. “So we are going to see lots more of these objects.”

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