South Africa unveils telescope to uncover Galaxy’s secrets

South Africa unveils telescope to uncover Galaxy’s secrets

Friday, July 13, 2018 11:47 am

64 satellite dishes at the MeerKAT site in the Northern Cape

South Africa on Friday unveiled a “MeerKAT”, the most powerful Radio telescope of its kind, with scientists saying it could uncover new secrets of the Galaxy.

The 64-dish MeerKAT telescope in the Northern Cape is a precursor to the larger international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and is managed by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO).

At the launch, attended by South African Deputy President David Mabuza, an image obtained by the new telescope was presented, showing details around the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy.

“The centre of the Milky Way, 25,000 light-years away from Earth is forever enshrouded by intervening clouds of gas and dust, making it invisible from Earth using ordinary telescopes,’’ the SKA South Africa office said in a statement.

“However, infrared, X-ray, and, in particular, radio wavelengths penetrate the obscuring dust and open a window into this distinctive region’’ and its black hole, the statement said.

“This image is remarkable,’’ said Farhad Yusef-Zadeh an astrophysicist at Northwestern University in the United States.

“It’s an exceptional achievement, congratulations to our South African colleagues.

“They’ve built an instrument that will be the envy of astronomers everywhere and will be in great demand for years to come.’

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