First image from South Africa's super telescope has been released. The images reveals more than 1300 galaxies in a small patch of sky.
South Africa’s super radio telescope MeerKAT has taken its first ever images of the skies and showed off glimpses of its immaculate, superior technology.
The first image, released on Saturday, reveals more than 1300 previously undetected galaxies in a small corner of the universe encompassing less than 0.01% of the entire celestial sphere. It is a region of space where only 70 galaxies have been spotted before and includes a galaxy approximately 200 million light years away, which is spitting out stars at large numbers.
The discovery was made using just 16 of MeerKAT’s 64 dishes. The rest of the dishes will be integrated next year and when it will be fully operational it will be the largest and most powerful radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere until the completion of Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in 2024.
“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.” Professor Justin Jonas, SKA South Africa chief technologist said in a statement.
The telescope is located near the small town of Carnarvon, 600 kilometers north of Cape Town. It will eventually work in collaboration with SKA – a huge multiradio-telescope to be built in Australia and South Africa which is expected to have thousands of dishes and up to a million of antennas. The telescope will enable astronomers to peer deeper into space in unparalleled detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any existing system.
Scientists are taken aback by the first image taken by MeerKAT and expect much more to come in future from exploring exploding stars to gazing at black holes and dark energy.
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Dr Rob Adam, Project Director of SKA South Africa says. “The launch of MeerKAT AR1 and its first results is a significant milestone for South Africa.”