Australia's Radio Telescope to find 700,000 New Galaxies

First Posted: Nov 12, 2012 03:27 AM EST

Scientists hope to discover 700,000 new galaxies with the help of Australia's newest radio telescope, CSIRO's Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP).

By combining computer simulation with ASKAP's specifications the researchers have been able to predict the extraordinary capabilities of the new telescope.

"ASKAP is a highly capable telescope. Its surveys will find more galaxies, further away and be able to study them in more detail than any other radio telescope in the world until the SKA Is built," said Dr Alan Duffy from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.

"Our simulation is similar to testing a Formula 1 car in a wind tunnel before using it on the track," he said.

ASKAP will begin by scanning southern skies in 2013 as a forerunner to the massive Square Kilometer Array (SKA), which will be shared between Australia, New Zealand and Southern Africa.

According to Dr Duffy, the two ASKAP surveys namely WALLABY and DINGO, will examine galaxies to study hydrogen gas. The surveys will also examine how these galaxies changed over the last 4 billion years. This will help the team to better understand how the Milky Way grew.

"We predict that WALLABY will find an amazing 600,000 new galaxies and DINGO 100,000, spread over trillions of cubic light years of space," said Dr Duffy.

"The new ASKAP galaxy surveys would also allow astronomers to probe the nature of one of astronomy's greatest mysteries -- Dark Energy."

Dr Duffy stated that, on combining the large simulation of the Universe with new theories of galaxy formation, the scientists were able to accurately predict where undiscovered galaxies should be located.

"We calculated how much of the model Universe ASKAP could observe using details of the telescope's capabilities," said co-author Dr Baerbel Koribalski.

"The predictions would be used to help scientists refine how to handle the large quantity of data ASKAP will produce and test theories of galaxy formation," said Darren Croton, co-author and associate professor from Swinburne University of Technology.

"If we don't see this many galaxies, then the Universe is strangely different to our simulations," Croton added.

ASKAP will become part of the world's largest telescope -- the SKA.

The paper was published on Sunday in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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