A new map of the universe has revealed one million new galaxies but what’s even more astonishing is that astronomers mapped them out in just 300 hours.
In a statement, Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO) described the new sky atlas as a “Google map of the universe”. They used the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope which has 36 antennas in order to map out a large portion of the sky.
Dr. Larry Marshall, who is the Chief Executive with CSIRO, explained, “ASKAP is applying the very latest in science and technology to age-old questions about the mysteries of the Universe and equipping astronomers around the world with new breakthroughs to solve their challenges.”
According to their paper, astronomers mapped out approximately three million galaxies that are located in the southern part of the sky with about one million of them being totally new to science as they have never been seen before now.
In the same statement, David McConnell, who is a CSIRO astronomer and the lead author of the study, talked about their very successful mapping project, “For the first time, ASKAP has flexed its full muscles, building a map of the universe in greater detail than ever before, and at record speed,” adding, “We expect to find tens of millions of new galaxies in future surveys.”
And he was right when he said that it was record speed as previous sky surveys have taken months or even years to complete and the one conducted by CSIRO – which they named the Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey – took just a few weeks (300 hours). The telescope’s 36 antennas/receivers took hundreds of pictures of the sky and then a bunch of supercomputers combined them all together into one map.
There were a total of 903 pictures (each with 70 billion pixels) that covered 83% of the sky. This is incredible in itself as major world telescopes needed tens of thousands of images to create their own maps of the universe. A few pictures can be seen on CSIRO’s website and more will soon be available for viewing.
Since there was so much success with their first survey of the universe, scientists from CSIRO are planning more observations which may lead them to discover even more previously unknown galaxies.
Their study was published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia where it can be read in full.