Thursday, 16 August, 2018

MeerKAT captured clearest view yet of centre of the Milky Way

South Africa launches powerful new telescope This Is The Clearest View of The Centre of The Milky Way to Date, And It Is Breathtaking
Elijah Vega | 18 July, 2018, 22:27

In the meantime the South African radio astronomy Observatory (South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, SARAO) open the "core" of the future interferometer - 64 radio antenna with a diameter more than 13 meters, set in an arid mountainous area of the Karoo in the North of Africa.

Rob Adam, an SKA worldwide board member, told Reuters that MeerKAT is the first of its kind and South Africa has received tremendous recognition for it.

The center of the Milky Way galaxy is known for being enshrouded by gas and dust and invisible from the earth using ordinary telescopes. Although MeerKAT is expensive at around 4.4 billion rand (331 billion U.S. dollars) but it is already functioning as a draw for those scientists, who would otherwise go to the U.S., Australia or Europe to collect the necessary data.

At the distance of the galactic center (located within the white area near image center), this 2 degree by 1 degree panorama corresponds to an area of approximately 1 000 light-years by 500 light-years.

"This image is remarkable", said Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

"Although it's early days with MeerKAT, and a lot remains to be optimized, we chose to go for it - and were stunned by the results", Camilo continued.

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A stunning view of the Milky Way's fiery heart where a super-massive black hole lurks amid odd filamentary structures.

A world-first image of the centre of the Milky Way was revealed during the MeerKAT launch event last week. Data can be processed at a speed of 275 gigabytes per second. The recent image has shown compact sources associated with the structures that might help solve the three-decade-old riddle, he said.

These long and narrow magnetised filaments were discovered in the 1980s using the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico, but their origin has remained a mystery.

It is a major milestone in the history of Africa, where investment worth of United States dollars 331 billion on MeerKAT has already started to pay off by providing the results which the scientist wants it for a decade ago, else scientists have to go to America, Europe or Australia.

Fernando Camilo, chief scientist of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) said, "We wanted to show the science capabilities of this new instrument". Chosen because of its remoteness, with hills providing an extra shield against radio interference, the project site is the main African base for hundreds of antennae that will eventually be placed as far as Kenya and Ghana.

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