08 Apr 2021 10:13:02 AM IST
The images show a drama in the early universe billions of years ago – sparkling, glowing galaxies of stars exploding in supernovae and flaming jets being fired from black holes. The giant European LOFAR radio telescope has discovered stars from tens of thousands of distant galaxies with unprecedented precision in a series of studies published Wednesday. Using techniques that correspond to a very long exposure and whose field of view is about 300 times the size of a full moon, scientists were able to distinguish between galaxies like the Milky Way deep in the ancient universe.
“The light from these galaxies has traveled billions of years to reach Earth. This means that we see galaxies as they were billions of years ago when they formed most of their stars, ”said Philip Best of the British firm. University of Edinburgh, which led the in-depth study of the telescope in a press release.
The LOFAR telescope combines signals from a large number of more than 70,000 individual antennas in countries from Ireland to Poland, which are connected via a high-speed fiber optic network.
They are able to observe very weak, low-energy light that is invisible to the human eye and is created by ultra-energetic particles that travel near the speed of light.
The researchers said it allows them to study supernova star explosions, collisions of galaxy clusters, and active black holes that accelerate these particles into shocks or jets.
By repeatedly observing the same regions of the sky and merging the data to create a single, super-long exposure image, scientists were able to detect radio glow from exploding stars.
The most distant objects discovered date from when the universe was only a billion years old. It is now roughly 13.8 billion years old.
“When a galaxy forms stars, many stars explode at the same time, accelerating very high energy particles, and the galaxies begin to radiate,” said Cyril Mug, an astronomer at the Paris Observatory and one of the authors of the research published in a series of articles in of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
About three billion years after the Big Bang, he said that “this is truly a fireworks display” in young galaxies, with “a high point in star formation and black hole activity”.
The telescope focused on a large area of the northern hemisphere sky, which corresponds to an exposure time ten times longer than that used when creating its first cosmic map in 2019.
“It gives much finer results, like a photo taken in the dark. The longer you expose, the more things you can see,” said Mug. AFP.
Deep images are created by combining signals from thousands of the telescope’s antennas that contain more than four petabytes of raw data – the equivalent of about a million DVDs.
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