RSSAf Fellow helps in discovery of hidden galaxies behind Milky Way

Feb 23, 2016 No Comments by

An international team of scientists that includes a leading astronomy researcher from the University of Cape Town and one from the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) have helped to make a groundbreaking discovery by peering through the stars and dust of the Milky Way with a radio telescope to discover hidden galaxies beyond. Both are available for interview.The study involved researchers from Australia, South Africa, the USA and the Netherlands.

Professor Renée C. Kraan-Korteweg FRSSAf, Chair of Astronomy at UCT, and her close collaborator, Dr Anja Schröder, who is working with the SAAO, are among the lead authors of “The Parkes HI Zone of Avoidance Survey”. The paper will bepublished in the Astronomical Journal on Tuesday, 9 February 2016. They are working with first author Professor Lister Staveley-Smith, from the University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
Hundreds of hidden nearby galaxies have been discovered for the first time, shedding light, amongst others, on a mysterious gravitational anomaly dubbed the Great Attractor. Despite being just 250 million light years from Earth – very close in astronomical terms – the new galaxies had been hidden from view until now by our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. Thanks to the64m Parkes Radio Telescope (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), which was equipped with an innovative receiver that can scan the sky 13 times faster than before, the scientists were able to survey this hidden part of the universe much more efficiently. “Even so, the data gathering went on for various years,” said Professor Kraan-Korteweg.
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