Australian Telescope Maps New Atlas of the Universe In Record Speed

A powerful new telescope developed by Australian scientists has mapped three million galaxies in record speed, unlocking the universe’s deepest secrets. The Guardian reports: The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (Askap) broke records as it conducted its first survey of the entire southern sky, mapping approximately three million galaxies in 300 hours. Scientists used the telescope at an observatory in outback Western Australia to observe 83% of the sky. The result is a new atlas of the universe, according to the telescope’s developer and operator, Australian science agency the CSIRO.

The survey — the Rapid Askap Continuum Survey — has mapped millions of star-like points; most are distant galaxies, the CSIRO says. About a million of those distant galaxies have never been seen before. Scientists expect to find tens of millions of new galaxies in future surveys, lead author and CSIRO astronomer David McConnell said. The telescope mapped the sky in unprecedented speed and detail. The CSIRO says the result proves that an all-sky survey can be done in weeks rather than years. The instrument has a particularly wide field of view, enabling it to take panoramic pictures of the sky in high detail. The quality of the telescope’s receivers means the team only needed to combine 903 images to form a full map of the sky. Other major world telescopes have required tens of thousands of images to put together an all-sky survey. The CSIRO’s custom-built hardware and software then processed the 13.5 exabytes (13.5 billion gigabytes) of raw data generated by the telescope. That raw data was generated at a faster rate than Australia’s entire internet traffic. The initial results were published in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

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