New telescope offers clearest view of Milky Way's brilliant center

Radio telescope South africa

This worldwide scientific collaboration is set to increase South Africa's knowledge and scientific skills capacity.

MeerKAT consists of 64 antennas (or dishes), every 13.5 meters in diameter, located on baselines (distances between antenna pairs) of up to 8 km.

Scientists working new radio telescope called MeerKAT releasing an image described as the "clearest view yet" of the centre of our galaxy, which is 25,000 light-years away from Earth and lying behind the constellation Sagittarius.

One of the 64 radio telescopes that are part of the MeerKAT project behind a plaque unveiled by Deputy President David Mabuza.

"This has empowered local industry and institutions to acquire skills and expertise in advanced technologies, and to grow their worldwide competitiveness", Mabuza said. "We take pride in the fact that a project of this magnitude was completed on time, within the projected budget". So, in the picture, which covers the space 1000х500 light-years, seen the remains of a supernova and a mysterious magnetic filaments around a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy.

MeerKAT is expected to be completely science-ready in the next few months; two projects, one looking at fleeting astronomical events known as transients and another surveying hydrogen abundance in galaxies, are already underway.

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In the radio astronomers see more of small details that are not visible in ordinary to the human eye spectrum. The spot is hard to capture; there are clouds of gas and dust in the way that obscure it from ordinary telescopes. It will use the first prototype dish which is built in China. With MeerKAT online, scientists can scan the sky and peer through the dust and gas obscuring the view of traditional telescopes.

There is a new radio telescope up and running now, based in Karoo, South Africa.

MeerKAT is much more than the story of astronomy. "Back in the day, our astronomers went overseas to do astronomy, now we're the attraction", he says. Scientists believe data from this project will provide crucial insight into the universe's history.

He says that some of his colleagues have moved to South Africa to be part of the project, while others visit regularly.

When functional, it will be looked at as the topmost radio telescope of its kind. After all, MeerKAT will accommodate eight big survey projects, which will give each team more time than 1,000 hours of observation time in five years.

Rob Adam, an SKA worldwide board member, told Reuters that MeerKAT is the first of its kind and South Africa has received tremendous recognition for it.

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