A new telescope shows the center of the Milky Way in dazzling, fiery detail
MeerKAT is producing brilliant images of the super massive black hole that is at our galaxy’s center.
There is a new radio telescope up and running based in Karoo, South Africa. The MeerKAT (Karoo Array Telescope), as it’s named, operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, is already producing brilliant images of the super massive black hole that is at our galaxy’s center, 25,000 light years away.
That center is obscured from view when using traditional methods of observation; it’s behind the constellation Sagittarius, where clouds of gas and dust hide it from view. However, MeerKAT's radio wavelengths penetrate the obscuring dust and open a window into this distinctive region and its black hole.
The “filaments” that you see in the image above are not yet fully understood, after being first discovered in the 1980s, but they only exist near that central black hole. The other objects are remnants of supernovae and star-forming regions, near dead center of the Milky Way.
“We wanted to show the science capabilities of this new instrument,” said Fernando Camilo, chief scientist of the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), which built and operates MeerKAT. “The center of the galaxy was an obvious target: unique, visually striking and full of unexplained phenomena—but also notoriously hard to image using radio telescopes.”
"Although it’s early days with MeerKAT, and a lot remains to be optimized, we decided to go for it—and were stunned by the results,” Camilo continued.
All 64 dishes of the MeerKAT radio telescope array, up and running in South Africa. Astronomers "celebrated" completion by taking a snapshot of the center of the Milky Way. Image by Square Kilometer Array Africa.
This is not the first image by MeerKAT; it captured an image two years ago of an area that scientists previously thought only held about 70 galaxies; MeerKAT captured over 1,300.
MeerKAT "First Light" image by Square Kilometer Array, South Africa.
Pay attention to the decisions made by the provinces.
- China leads the world in numerous green energy categories.
- CO2 emissions in the country totaling more than all coal emissions in the U.S. have recently emerged.
- This seems to be an administrative-induced blip on the way towards a green energy tipping point.
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!
And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"
All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!
Or how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku.
- Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
- Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
- The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
Calling all big thinkers!
- The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 pm E.T.
- The odds of any one ticket winning are about 1 in 300 million.
- This might be a record-setting jackpot, but that doesn't mean you have a better chance of winning.
Money makes the world go 'round. Unfortunately, it can make both children and adults into materialists.
- Keeping a gratitude journal caused children to donate 60 percent more to charitable causes.
- Other methods suggested by researchers include daily gratitude reflection, gratitude posters, and keeping a "gratitude jar."
- Materialism has been shown to increase anxiety and depression and promote selfish attitudes and behavior.
The Boring Company plans to offer free rides in its prototype tunnel in Hawthorne, California in December.
- The prototype tunnel is about 2 miles long and contains electric skates that travel at top speeds of around 150 mph.
- This is the first tunnel from the company that will be open to the public.
- If successful, the prototype could help the company receive regulatory approval for much bigger projects in L.A. and beyond.
Anatomy and physiology professor David Harper claims a recent study in The Lancet is flawed.
- The low-carbohydrate group in a recent Lancet study were typically middle-aged, obese, sedentary, diabetic smokers.
- The study was not a randomized, controlled, double-blind experiment.
- Harper has been in ketosis for six years, and says it has profound effects on cancer patients, among other chronic ailments.
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