Researchers share WALLABY survey data

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists shared with the scientific community the first data obtained during the WALLABY (The Widefield ASKAP L-band Legacy All-sky Blind surveY) survey, which is carried out using the ASKAP radio interferometer located in Western Australia.

Phase 1 of WALLABY surveyed hundreds of galaxies spanning 180 square degrees of observable sky – an area equivalent to more than 700 full moons.

The study is expected to catalog 250,000 galaxies, helping researchers measure the distribution of dark matter, the internal motion of galaxies, and how these systems evolve and interact.

Lead author of the study, Dr Tobias Westmyer of the University of Western Australia, said the data collected by WALLABY will help us explore the universe on a scale that we could never achieve with optical telescopes alone.

“If the Milky Way is between us and the galaxy we’re trying to observe, the sheer amount of stars and dust makes it incredibly difficult to see,” said Dr. Westmeier.

“WALLABY is not affected by these restrictions. This is one of the greatest strengths of radio observations: we can simply look at all the stars and dust in our Milky Way.”

This is the first full 3D study of this magnitude. More than 30 terabytes of data are collected every eight-hour day using the ASKAP radio telescope.

Study co-author Karen Lee-Waddell said the project will show where the galaxies actually are in relation to each other in three-dimensional space. It will separate galaxies that appear to be clustered together but are actually millions of light-years apart.

“WALLABY will help us map and detect hydrogen gas, the fuel for star formation,” said Dr. Lee-Waddell.

“With this data, astronomers can accurately group galaxies to better understand how galaxies affect each other when grouped together. This will give insight into how galaxies form and change over time.”

The WALLABY catalog is expected to lead to many new observations and discoveries due to the sheer scale of the study.

“Of the more than 600 galaxies measured so far, many have not been previously cataloged in any other wavelength range and are new discoveries,” said WALLABY Principal Investigator Professor Lister Stavely-Smith.

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