Eye on the sky finds a far galaxy

STAFF REPORTERMidwest Times
The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope has been used to pinpoint a galaxy far, far away.
Camera IconThe Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope has been used to pinpoint a galaxy far, far away. Credit: Supplied

Scientists have used the massive radio telescope at Boolardy Station near Murchison Settlement to find a galaxy about the size of our own Milky Way, about 3.6 billion light years away.

The international team of 54 astronomers did this by pinpointing the location of a fast radio burst, which is an intense pulse of radio emissions lasting a fraction of a second.

These signals had baffled astronomers as other radio telescopes lacked the precision to identify where they came from.

However, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, which is the most advanced radio telescope in the world, made it possible to solve the mystery.

Armed with the position of the burst, the team harnessed the world’s most powerful optical telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to find the signal’s home galaxy.

Since the discovery, the team has pinpointed many more bursts with ASKAP, processing the data at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth.

With the extra bursts, they have discovered the missing matter that makes up the cosmic web and probed the halo of an intervening galaxy.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has awarded the prestigious AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize to CSIRO scientist Dr Keith Bannister and the international team of astronomers. This is awarded to outstanding articles in the journal Science, which featured an image of the ASKAP on its front cover.

An article in the August 2019 edition is called “A single fast radio burst localised to a massive galaxy at cosmological distance”.

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