INFOGRAPHICS – The most detailed study of the southern sky ever carried out has made it possible to map three million galaxies, one million of which have been unknown so far, in just two weeks.
The thirty-six antennas, spread over 1 square kilometer, of the new Australian Askap radio telescope (Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder) have just drawn an incredible map of the southern sky.
In just 300 hours of observation, or less than two weeks, researchers at the Murchison Observatory, located 500 km north of Perth, mapped 3 million galaxies, including one million that had yet to be discovered. . A record!
Previous radio maps had taken years of work. The first detailed atlas of the southern sky, that of the Molonglo Observatory at the University of Sydney, was completed in 2006. It had taken nearly ten years of labor to observe 25% of the entire sky. Askap swept away 83%!
The survey, using cutting-edge technology, produced 903 images, each requiring an exposure time of 15 minutes. They were then combined into a single map covering the entire observation area.
Here is the result of the map, with some celestial objects of particular interest. Most of the small white dots represent a galaxy. In the foreground, the Askap antennas.
Studying the sky so quickly opens up many research opportunities. From now on, it will be possible to regularly compare each of the three million identified galaxies in order to characterize them and specify their behavior.
More generally, these observations will help to understand their formation, their appearance (ellipse, spiral …) and thus lift a little more the veil on the 13 billion years of the history of our universe. Especially since, according to astronomers, over the next decade, the next observations should reveal tens of millions of new radio sources.