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Lifestyle Viral and Trending 19 Feb 2019 The known Universe j ...

The known Universe just got bigger

AFP
Published Feb 19, 2019, 2:10 pm IST
Updated Feb 19, 2019, 2:10 pm IST
A new Universe map reveals 300,000 more galaxies.
The study used radio astronomy to look at a segment of sky and found 300,000 previously unseen light sources thought to be distant galaxies. (Photo: AFP)
 The study used radio astronomy to look at a segment of sky and found 300,000 previously unseen light sources thought to be distant galaxies. (Photo: AFP)

A new map of the night sky published recently charts hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies discovered using a telescope that can detect light sources optical instruments cannot see.

The international team behind the unprecedented space survey said their discovery literally shed new light on some of the Universe's deepest secrets, including the physics of black holes and how clusters of galaxies evolve.

 

"This is a new window on the universe. 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," Cyril Tasse, an astronomer at the Paris Observatory who was involved in the project, told AFP.

More than 200 astronomers from 18 countries were involved in the study, which used radio astronomy to look at a segment of sky over the northern hemisphere, and found 300,000 previously unseen light sources thought to be distant galaxies.

Radio astronomy allows scientists to detect radiation produced when massive celestial objects interact. The team used the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope in the Netherlands to pick up traces, or "jets", of ancient radiation produced when galaxies merge. These jets, previously undetected, can extend over millions of light years.

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

The Hubble telescope has produced images that lead scientists to believe there are more than 100 billion galaxies in the Universe, although many are too old and distant to be observed using traditional detection techniques.

The LOFAR telescope is made up of a Europe-wide network of radio antenna across seven countries, forming the equivalent of a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) diameter satellite dish. The team plans to create high-resolution images of the entire northern sky, which they say will reveal as many as 15 million as-yet undetected radio sources.

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