New sky card detects hundreds of thousands of unknown galaxies. (Credit: ASTRON)
It can seem at the cells under a microscope, but what you will see is a sky map of hundreds of thousands of previously undetected galaxies, some of which are black holes which “never stop eating.”
The new discovery was made by a team of more than 200 astronomers from all over the world looking for data of the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR), a network of telescopes operated by the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy.
“What we are beginning to see with LOFAR is that, in some cases, clusters of galaxies that do not merge may also include emissions, albeit on a very low level that was previously undetectable,” Annalisa Bonafede, University of Bologna and INAF, said in a statement. “This discovery tells us that, in addition to the merger events, there are other phenomena that can lead to particle acceleration on large scales.”
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LOFAR looked at the 300,000 sources, with the statement noting that “almost all of the galaxies,” with radio signals have traveled “billions of light years before reaching the Earth,” and found that they emit jets of material that can be seen at radio wavelengths.
University of Edinburgh-researcher Philip Best said: “the LOFAR telescope has a remarkable sensitivity, and that allows us to see that these jets are present in all of the most massive galaxies, which means that their black holes never stop eating.”
More work is necessary to understand that all of the images taken of the entire northern sky, which is expected to reveal a number of 15 million radio sources.
“Imagine some of the discoveries that we make along the way,” ASTRON General Director, Carole Jackson said in the statement. “I definitely look forward to it.”
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The findings were published in a special issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.