The heart of our Milky Way Galaxy shows exploding stars, stellar nurseries, mysterious ‘radio filaments’ or strands, and a chaotic region around the 4 million solar mass supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*, 25,000 light-years from Earth.
This image of the heart of our Milky Way Galaxy depicts the region’s radio emission in unparalleled detail was taken by Radio waves penetrating the intervening dust that obscures the view of this region. It was released by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO).
The image is the result of three years of processing data, and 200 hours of telescope work, to able the researchers to produce a mosaic of twenty distinct observations of various regions of the heart of our Milky Way galaxy.
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Magnetic filaments or strands of radio transmitters with a length of up to 150 light-years penetrate the image. Since their discovery more than 35 years ago, these extraordinary structures have eluded a definitive explanation for their genesis. MeerKAT discovered far more filaments than previously known, and these new data will enable astronomers to conduct detailed studies of these phenomena.
“MeerKAT is making some truly astounding discoveries in one of radio astronomy’s most heavily studied fields. The image we present is brimming with scientific promise, and we anticipate additional surprises when the astronomical community examines the data in the next years,” stated Fernando Camilo, SARAO’s Chief Scientist.
“The radio pictures they haven’t always been like this and MeerKAT is a breakthrough” for the study of the universe, according to Dr. Ian Heywood, from the University of Oxford (U.K), one of the researchers.
The South African Radio Astronomical Observatory has made available all of MeerKAT’s photos and tens of terabytes of data for the scientific community to analyse and contribute to further discoveries.