Scanning by way of information recent off the telescope, we noticed two ghosts dancing deep within the cosmos. We had by no means seen something prefer it earlier than, and we had no thought what they have been.
A number of weeks later, we had found out we have been seeing two radio galaxies, a few billion gentle years away. Within the centre of every one is a supermassive black gap, squirting out jets of electrons which might be bent into grotesque shapes by an intergalactic wind.
Picture by Jayanne English and Ray Norris utilizing information from EMU and the Darkish Power Survey
However the place does the intergalactic wind come from? Why is it so tangled? And what’s inflicting the streams of radio emission? We nonetheless don’t perceive the small print of what’s going on right here, and it’ll most likely take many extra observations and modelling earlier than we do.
We’re getting used to surprises as we scan the skies within the Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) venture, utilizing CSIRO’s new Australian Sq. Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), a radio telescope that probes deeper into the Universe than every other. Once you boldly go the place no telescope has gone earlier than, you’re more likely to make new discoveries.
A deep search returns many surprises
Picture by Ray Norris from EMU information
The Dancing Ghosts have been simply one among a number of surprises present in our first deep search of the sky utilizing ASKAP. This search, known as the EMU Pilot Survey, is described intimately in a paper quickly to seem within the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.
picture created by Jayanne English from information from EMU and the Darkish Power Survey
The primary huge shock from the EMU Pilot Survey was the invention of mysterious Odd Radio Circles (ORCs), which appear to be big rings of radio emission, almost one million gentle years throughout, surrounding distant galaxies.
These had by no means been seen earlier than, as a result of they’re so uncommon and faint. We nonetheless don’t know what they’re, however we’re working furiously to search out out.
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We’re discovering surprises even in locations we thought we understood. Subsequent door to the well-studied galaxy IC5063, we discovered a large radio galaxy, one of many largest recognized, whose existence had by no means even been suspected.
Picture by Ray Norris from EMU information and Darkish Power Survey information
This new galaxy too comprises a supermassive black gap, squirting out jets of electrons almost 5 million gentle years lengthy. ASKAP is the one telescope on the earth that may see the full extent of this faint emission.
What EMU can do
Most recognized sources of radio emissions are brought on by supermassive black holes in quasars and energetic galaxies, which produce exceptionally brilliant alerts. It’s because radio telescopes have all the time struggled to see the a lot fainter radio emission from regular spiral galaxies like our personal Milky Approach.
The EMU venture goes deep sufficient to see them too. EMU sees nearly all of the spiral galaxies within the close by Universe that have been beforehand seen solely by optical and infrared telescopes. EMU may even hint the spiral arms within the nearest ones.
Picture created by Baerbel Koribalski from EMU information and Darkish Power Survey information
EMU will assist us perceive the beginning of latest stars in these galaxies.
These a number of the first outcomes the EMU venture, which we began in 2009. The EMU group of greater than 400 scientists in additional than 20 international locations has spent the previous 12 years planning the venture, creating methods, writing software program, and dealing with the CSIRO engineers who have been constructing the telescope. It has been an extended haul, however we’re finally seeing the superb information we have now dreamed of for therefore lengthy.
However that is solely the beginning. Over the following few years, EMU will use the ASKAP telescope to discover even deeper within the Universe, constructing on these discoveries and discovering extra. All the information from EMU will finally be positioned within the public area, in order that astronomers from all over the world can mine the information and make new discoveries.
However don’t take my phrase for it. You may already use EMU Pilot Survey information to discover the radio sky your self, utilizing the zoomable picture on our web site.
Use your mouse wheel to zoom in from the massive image right down to the best particulars, and see what you discover. Maybe it’s possible you’ll even uncover one thing there that the astronomers have missed.