FAST telescope reveals the secrets of the Milky Way

(ORDO NEWS) — The FAST telescope, built by China, is the world’s most sensitive single-dish radio telescope. It is an excellent tool for searching for pulsars and exploring the galactic interstellar medium.

A team of scientists led by Professor Jinlin Han conducted the Galactic Plane Pulsar Snapshot (GPPS) study and discovered more than 500 new faint pulsars.

While observing the pulsars, the researchers simultaneously recorded spectral line data.

Recently, scientists have completed the processing of the obtained data and published the latest results of the study of atomic and ionized gas, magnetic fields and radio emission in the interstellar space of the Milky Way.

In its first data release, FAST found a distribution of neutral hydrogen gas (HI) in the 88 square degree sky between galactic longitudes of 33° to 55° and galactic latitudes of ±2°. While fine-tuning is still ongoing, the results already show unprecedented detail in the distribution of HI gas.

The ionized gas of interstellar space is a large component of the Milky Way that has not been explored in detail.

The team processed the hydrogen radio recombination lines in the GPPS spectral line data in the same region of the sky as the HI data, revealing luminous regions ionized by bright stars and diffuse ionized gas of unknown origin.

These data are needed to study the ecological cycle of gas and star formation in the Milky Way.

The galactic magnetic fields that permeate the galaxy’s interstellar medium are extremely difficult to measure.

The team relied on FAST sensitivity to measure the polarization and Faraday rotation of 134 faint pulsars in the galactic halo and found that the magnetic field strength in the galactic halo was about 2 microgauss.

Recent Faraday rotation measurements from the GPPS survey show that the magnetic field is changing along the spiral arms in the far reaches of the Milky Way.

Without FAST, the interstellar magnetic field over such a wide area would never have been detected.

The team also checked the FAST scanning observations for continuous radio emission from the galaxy in the 5° × 7° region of the sky.

The results confirm that two large faint radio emission structures (G203.1 + 6.6 and G206.7 +5.9) are shell-type supernova remnants, one of which was formed in a supernova explosion at a distance of about 1400 years from the Sun.


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