South Africa’s MeerKAT to help unlock mysteries of…

MeerKAT telescope

Scientists in the Northern Cape have managed to photograph the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy, using the recently completed MeerKAT radio telescope.

At an inauguration attended by government officials and foreign dignitaries, Camilo released new images taken by MeerKAT of the region surrounding the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, some 25,000 light years away, The Daily Mail reported.

Described as "remarkable" by Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, a world-class expert on the enigmatic filamentary structures that only appear near Sagittarius A, the image showcases many known features, such as supernova remnants and star-forming regions, as well as never-before-seen elements.

South African Deputy President David Mabuza says the Square Kilometre Array will enhance the world's "understanding of the universe".

But infrared, X-ray, and some radio wavelengths, like the ones MeerKAT detects, can penetrate this dust, providing a unique view of the region.

MeerKAT's 64 dishes or antennas provide 2,000 unique antenna pairs, far more than any comparable telescope.

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Later it will later be integrated into the SKA, which will be 50 to 100 times more sensitive than any other radio telescope on Earth. These include some features that could provide a basis for unlocking the mystery of the filaments, says Yusef-Zadeh, who is affiliated with Northwestern University in IL.

"It is the first time you have a telescope that will track a radio telescope so that if there are discoveries that are made, you will be able to follow up", Phil Mjwara, director general in the South African ministry of Science and Technology, told reporters.

They've built an instrument that will be the envy of astronomers everywhere and will be in great demand for years to come'. That additional information can be obtained using single dish radio telescopes; for the MeerKAT image shown here, that information is from the Green Bank Telescope (courtesy Bill Cotton of NRAO). The telescope's location in South Africa is also ideal, with the Milky Way passing overhead and visible for nearly 12 hours each day.

The dishes are of a highly efficient design with up to four cryogenic receiver systems operating in different bands of the radio spectrum.

Expected to be fully up and running by 2030, the SKA will comprise a forest of 3,000 dishes spread over an area of a square kilometre (0.4 square miles) across remote terrain in several African countries and Australia to allow astronomers to peer deeper into space with unparallelled detail.

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