The “Game-Changer” telescope captures deep space panoramas at record speed and opens the way for new discoveries.
The nation’s National Science Agency said on Tuesday that a powerful new telescope in remote parts of Australia has mapped vast regions of the universe in record time, uncovering a million new galaxies and opening the way for new discoveries.
The radio telescope, called the Australian Square Kilometer Array (ASKAP), was able to map nearly three million galaxies in just 300 hours. Similar surveys of the sky took 10 years.
“It’s really a game of change,” said astronomer David McConnell, who led the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) study of the southern sky at the Murchison Radio Arts Observatory in Western Australia.
What makes this telescope unique is its wide field of view, using receivers designed by CSIRO, that allow it to capture panoramic images of the sky in sharper detail than before.
The telescope only needed to combine 903 images to map the sky, compared to other radio surveys that cover the entire sky that require tens of thousands of images.
“It’s more sensitive than previous surveys that covered the entire sky like this, so we see more things than we’ve seen in the past,” McConnell told Reuters news agency.
Having a telescope that can scan the sky in a few weeks or months means that the process can be repeated over and over in a relatively short period of time, allowing astronomers to systematically detect and track changes.
“Even with this first pass we have now, compared to the previous photos, we actually found some unusual things,” McConnell said, including some unusual stars who experience violent explosions.
He said that the data collected in this survey will allow astronomers to learn more about star formation and how galaxies and black holes develop through statistical analyzes.
The preliminary results were published Tuesday in the publications of the Australian Astronomical Society.