Mapping galaxies is hard work but not impossible, especially with so many technological advancements in recent years.
Australian astronomers now, in fact have even more advanced telescopes at their disposal for some faster and efficient galaxy exploration.
According to their national science agency, The CSIRO, their newest telescope in the desert, has “created a new atlas of the universe” in record time. It is reportedly much more detailed than ever presumed before.
The telescope managed to map a total of three million galaxies. The pictures it created are nearly twice as detailed as previous surveys. The astronomers believe these high-definition images will help make new discoveries about our mysterious universe.
According to CSIRO, the mapping took a mere 300 hours as compared to the previous years and decades-long surveys. The data has been released in the public domain to facilitate exploration and analysis from scientists across the globe.
The study was led by Dr David McConnell who said this data will help fellow astronomers explore “everything from star formation to how galaxies and their super-massive black hole evolve and interact.” He said he expects to find tens of millions of new galaxies based on this data in future surveys.
The once impossible feat was made possible by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (Askap). It is a collection of 36 dish antennas and they work together to take panoramas of the sky, much like an iPhone or other smartphone, but on a larger, cosmic scale. The complex system exists in remote outback of Western Australia. The whole structure expands over a 6-kilometre area inside the CSIRO's Murchison observatory about 700km north of Perth.
It combines signals from smaller dishes and patches together a high-resolution image at a fraction of the cost of one very large dish. The large volume of data travels faster than entire of Australia's internet traffic. It is then sent to a supercomputer processing facility in Perth where the images are created.
With its first sky survey, the facility found over 3 million galaxies. They stitched-up the map with 903 high detailed images. This was an impressive achievement as previous attempts at such surveys have required more than tens of thousands of images to create a complete picture of the sky.
The astronomers involved found “depth and scale exciting” as cataloguing these millions of galaxies beyond the Milky Way can help conduct statistical analyses. They can hopefully answer questions about the evolution and structure of the universe.