New sky map showcases more than 4 million galaxies, stars and other objects
Some 4.4 million galaxies and space objects billions of light-years away have been mapped by astronomers, including 1 million space objects that hadn't been spotted before.
Durham University astronomer collaborating with a team of international scientists have mapped more than a quarter of the northern sky using the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR), a pan-European radio telescope.
The map reveals an astonishingly detailed radio image of more than 4.4 million objects and a very dynamic picture of our Universe, which now has been made public for the first time.
The vast majority of these objects are billions of light-years away and are either galaxies that harbor massive black holes or are rapidly growing new stars. Rarer objects that have been discovered include colliding groups of distant galaxies and flaring stars within the Milky Way.
To produce the map, scientists deployed state-of-the-art data processing algorithms on high-performance computers all over Europe to process 3,500 hours of observations that occupy 8 petabytes of disk space — the equivalent to roughly 20,000 laptops.
This data release, which is by far the largest from the LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey, presents about a million objects that have never been seen before with any telescope and almost four million objects that are new discoveries at radio wavelengths.
This data presents a major step forward in astrophysics and can be used to search for a wide range of signals, such as those from nearby planets or galaxies right through to faint signatures in the distant Universe.