(CNN) – Astronomers have detected a powerful radio wave laser, known as megamaser, in space.
This massive accelerator broke the record for being the most distant ever observed, 5 billion light-years from Earth.
The light emitted by this space laser cut 58000 trillion kilometers to reach our planet.
This light was observed by an international team of astronomers led by researcher Marcin Glowicky using the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Meerkat telescope. (MeerKAT is an acronym for Karoo Array Telescope, prefixed with the Afrikaans word for “more”).
Glowacki is a research associate at the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University in Australia.
Megamasers are created when two galaxies collide with each other. This is the first giant hydroxyl that MeerKAT has been able to monitor, Glowacki said.
Hydroxyl, a chemical group consisting of one hydrogen and one oxygen atom, can be found within compact galaxies.
“When galaxies collide, the gas they contain becomes extremely dense and can release focused beams of light,” Glowicki explained in a statement.
The research team named the laser Nkalakatha, which means “great leader” in isiZulu, the Bantu language of Zulus in South Africa.
Astronomers discovered Megamasers on the first night of a study of more than 3,000 hours of observation using MeerKAT.
“It’s impressive that in just one night of observations, we found a record-breaking megamaser,” Glowaki said. “It shows how good the telescope is.”
The research team continues to use MeerKAT to look closely at narrow regions of the sky and look for the same features observed in megamasers. This could provide more information about the evolution of the universe.
“We plan to make follow-up observations of the megamasers and hope to make more discoveries,” Glowaki said.
The MeerKAT telescope, located in the Karoo region of South Africa, has an array of 64 radio antennas and has been in operation since July 2018. The strong telescope is sensitive to weak radio light.
MeerKAT is a precursor to the Transcontinental Square Kilometer Array, or SKA, a telescope built in both South Africa and Australia.
The array will include thousands of satellite dishes and up to one million low-frequency antennas in an effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope.
Although these antennas and disks will be in different parts of the world, together they will create a telescope with an area of \u200b\u200bmore than one square kilometer. In this way, astronomers will be able to study the entire sky much more quickly than they can with other telescopes.