A Google map of the universe

Australian telescope creates a new atlas of the Universe.


The Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), developed and operated by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, mapped roughly 3,000,000 galaxies within only 300 hours. This Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey is like a Google map of the universe where most of the millions of star-like points map are distant galaxies.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr. Larry Marshall said, “ASKAP is applying the very latest in science and technology to age-old questions about the mysteries of the universe and equipping astronomers around the world with breakthroughs to solve their challenges.”

“It’s all enabled by innovative receivers developed by CSIRO that feature phased array feed technology, which see ASKAP generate more raw data at a faster rate than Australia’s entire internet traffic.”

“In a time when we have access to more data than ever before, ASKAP and the supercomputers that support it are delivering unparalleled insights and wielding the tools that will underpin our data-driven future to make life better for everybody.”

Using ASKAP, scientists were able to observe 83 percent of the entire sky. And this record-breaking result proves that an all-sky survey can be done in weeks instead of years.

This survey’s outcome is expected to help astronomers undertake statistical analyses of large populations of galaxies.

Lead author and CSIRO astronomer Dr. David McConnell said, “Astronomers around the world will use this census of the universe to explore the unknown and study everything from star formation to how galaxies and their supermassive black holes evolve and interact.”

“With ASKAP’s advanced receivers, the RACS team only needed to combine 903 images to form the full map of the sky, significantly less than the tens of thousands of images needed for earlier all-sky radio surveys conducted by major world telescopes.”

“For the first time, ASKAP has flexed its full muscles, building a map of the universe in greater detail than ever before, and at record speed.”

“We expect to find tens of millions of new galaxies in future surveys.”

The final 903 images and supporting information amount to 26 terabytes of data.

Mr. Stickells said“The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre has worked closely with CSIRO and the ASKAP team since our inception, and we are proud to provide the essential infrastructure that is supporting science delivering great impact.”

Journal Reference:
  1. D. McConnell et al. The Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey I: Design and first results, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia (2020). DOI: 10.1017/pasa.2020.41