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.
- Human beings are psychologically hardwired to fear differences
- Several recent studies show evidence that digital spaces exacerbate the psychology which contributes to tribalism
- Shared experiences of awe, such as space travel, or even simple shared meals, have surprising effectives for uniting opposing groups
How to talk to kids responsibly about drugs.
- The majority of kids are going to experiment with drugs at some point in their lives, mostly in their teens and early 20s.
- While many parents might balk at allowing their children to experiment, it's important to remember that not all drugs are the same.
- There are some warning signs,, however. Neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz walks us through some of the signs to look out for.
There are many ways to posit the fundamental nature of reality.
- After thousands of years, and an infinite amount of novel experiences, there are today many dueling schools of philosophical thought.
- A great philosophical background takes into account a number of metaphysical positions and ideas.
- These 10 philosophy books all take on the questions of existence in a unique and varied manner.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is updated for the 21st century in a new study.
- Maslow's famous "Hierarchy of Needs" describes different levels of human motivation.
- A new study updates the hierarchy through modern methods.
- The research shows that self-actualized people share 10 specific traits.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.