(ORDO NEWS) — An astronomer from the University of Durham, UK, has mapped over a quarter of the northern sky with an international team of scientists using the Pan-European Low Frequency Array Radio Telescope (LOFAR).
This map is an incredibly detailed radio image of the sky, containing more than 4.4 million objects, and paints a very dynamic picture of our Universe. This data is publicly available for the first time.
Most of these objects are billions of light-years away and are either galaxies containing massive black holes or rapidly growing new stars. Rarer objects include colliding clusters of distant galaxies and the glittering stars of the Milky Way.
To create this map, scientists used state-of-the-art data processing algorithms on high-performance computers across Europe to process 3,500 hours of observational data in 8 petabytes of disk space – equivalent to the memory of approximately 20,000 laptops.
This data release, the largest data release from the LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey to date, represents approximately one million objects never seen before with any telescope, and almost four million first radio discoveries.
Lead author of the study, astronomer Timothy Shimwell of Leiden University, the Netherlands, said: “This is an amazing project!
Every time we create a map, we make new discoveries on our screens, seeing objects that no one else has ever seen before. Exploring the unknown glowing processes in the high-energy part of the radio universe is an incredible experience, and our team is thrilled that these maps are now available to the general public.”
This data represents a big step forward in astrophysics and can be used to search for signals ranging from light coming from nearby planets or galaxies to faint structures located in a distant part of the universe.
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