New Australian Telescope Could Find 700,000 Galaxies
November 9, 2012

New Australian Telescope Could Find 700,000 Galaxies

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Australian researchers wrote in a paper published Sunday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that there could be another 700,000 galaxies out there ready to be found by a new telescope.

The researchers have combined computer simulations with CSIRO´s next-generation Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) specifications to predict the new telescope's extraordinary capabilities.

“ASKAP is a highly capable telescope. Its surveys will find more galaxies, further away and be able to study them in more detail than any other radio telescope in the world until the SKA is built,” Dr Alan Duffy from The University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) said in a press release. “Our simulation is similar to testing a Formula 1 car in a wind tunnel before using it on the track.”

ASKAP will begin scanning the skies in 2013 as a forerunner to the massive Square Kilometer Array (SKA), which will be shared between Australia-New Zealand and Southern Africa.

Duffy said two ASKAP surveys, WALLABY and DINGO, would examine galaxies to study hydrogen gas and how those galaxies had changed in the last four billion years.

“We predict that WALLABY will find an amazing 600,000 new galaxies and DINGO 100,000, spread over trillions of cubic light years of space," he said in the release.

According to Duffy, the new ASKAP galaxy surveys would also allow astronomers to probe the nature of Dark Energy.

By combining a large simulation of the Universe with new theories of galaxy formation, scientists have been able to accurately predict where as-yet undiscovered galaxies should be sitting in the sky.

“We calculated how much of the model Universe ASKAP could observe using details of the telescope´s capabilities,” co-author Dr Baerbel Koribalski, who has recently been appointed as an Office of the Chief Executive Science Leader at the CSIRO, said in the release.

Co-author Associate Professor Darren Croton from Swinburne University of Technology said the predictions would be used to help scientists better determine how to handle the large quantity of data ASKAP will produce.

“If we don't see this many galaxies, then the Universe is strangely different to our simulations,” Croton said in the release.

ICRAR will be joining Curtin University and The University of Western Australia in providing research excellence in the field of radio astronomy.