MEERKAT discovers 1300 galaxies in one patch of sky [Image]


South Africa’s own MEERKAT radio telescope system has made headlines in the astronomy world thanks to its landmark First Light image.

The radio telescope focused on a small section of sky that represented 0.01% of the “entire celestial sphere”, the SKA team said in a media statement.

Prior to MEERKAT, only 70 known galaxies were found in this area.

The discovery is made even more notable due to the fact that only 16 of the eventual 64 dishes were used to make the discovery. All 64 dishes are expected to be online by the end of 2017.

“Based on the results being shown today, we are confident that after all 64 dishes are in place, MeerKAT will be the world’s leading telescope of its kind until the advent of SKA,” said Professor Justin Jonas, SKA South Africa Chief Technologist.

meerkat first light 1000

Prior to the First Light image’s release, 150 researchers and students met in Stellenbosch to discuss and deliver updates on the programme. An engineering test image, using just four dishes, was also released at the event.

“The scientists gathered at the May meeting were impressed to see what 4 MeerKAT dishes could do,” said Dr Fernando Camilo, SKA South Africa Chief Scientist. “They will be astonished at today’s exceptionally beautiful images, which demonstrate that MeerKAT has joined the big leagues of world radio astronomy”.



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.