Thanks to a global team of astronomers, a published significant new radio sky survey revealed hundreds of thousands of previously undiscovered galaxies.
Using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope, these mysterious new galaxies were discovered with 300,000 newly revealed light sources believed to be emitting from faraway galaxies.
The LOFAR telescope, based in the Netherlands, is able to detect light source beyond the power of optical instruments with radio astronomy — which allows astronomers to detect radiation produced by the interaction of colossal celestial objects.
With over 200 scientists from 18 different countries collectively partaking in the inspiring study — the massive undertaking used radio astronomy to analyze a portion of the sky above the northern hemisphere.
The radio signals have been said to have traveled billions of light years before reaching Earth.
In the first part of the sky survey, LOFAR observed a quarter of the northern hemisphere at low radio frequencies.
Huub Röttgering from Leiden University (The Netherlands) shared: “If we take a radio telescope and we look up at the sky, we see mainly emission from the immediate environment of massive black holes. With LOFAR we hope to answer the fascinating question: where do those black holes come from?”
Germany’s University of Hamburg’s Amanda Wilber made the following statement in a press release from the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy:
“With radio observations we can detect radiation from the tenuous medium that exists between galaxies. This radiation is generated by energetic shocks and turbulence. LOFAR allows us to detect many more of these sources and understand what is powering them.”
Annalisa Bonafede from Italy’s University of Bologna added, saying:
“What we are beginning to see with LOFAR is that, in some cases, clusters of galaxies that are not merging can also show this emission, albeit at a very low level that was previously undetectable. This discovery tells us that, besides merger events, there are other phenomena that can trigger particle acceleration over huge scales.”
It is thought that these findings will help reveal more information on various research areas, including the physics of black holes as well as research into how galaxy clusters evolve.
Cyril Tasse, an astronomer from the Paris Observatory, shared with AFP:
“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.”
In regards to how radio astronomy could help with observing black holes going forward, Tasse continued, saying:
“If you look at an active black hole, the jets (of radiation) disappear after millions of years, and you won’t see them at a higher frequency (of light), but at a lower frequency they continue to emit these jets for hundreds of millions of years, so we can see far older electrons.”
While it is exciting stuff how the universe as we know it looks to be bigger than we could ever imagine — it also makes my brain hurt.
I need to sit down…
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