Two dancing ghosts discovered about a billion light-years away

Point to new discoveries in the cosmos.


As part of the first deep sky search using CSIRO’s ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder) radio telescope, scientists from Western Sydney University and CSIRO have discovered dancing ghosts deep in the cosmos. These dancing ghosts are strange clouds of electrons surrounding galaxies, located almost a billion light-years away.

Scientists dubbed those clouds as dancing ghosts as they resemble two ghosts dancing. The discovery is one of several objects and phenomena uncovered in the deep search. It also outlines the first Pilot Survey of the EMU (Evolutionary Map of the Universe) project.

Lead researcher Professor Ray Norris from Western Sydney University and CSIRO said, “We are getting used to surprises as we scan the skies as part of the EMU Project and probe deeper into the Universe than any previous telescope. When you boldly go where no telescope has gone before, you are likely to make discoveries.”

After seeing these dancing ghosts, scientists were clueless about what they were. They worked for a week to shed light on them. To their surprise, they found that they were seeing two host galaxies. These galaxies have two supermassive black holes at their centers. The jets radiating from these black holes– consists of electrons that are then bent into grotesque shapes by an intergalactic wind.

“Discoveries, however, always raise new questions, and this one is no different. We still don’t know where the wind is coming from? Why is it so tangled? And what is causing the streams of radio emission? It will probably take many more observations and modeling before we understand any of these things.”

Professor Norris said“As a part of the EMU project, we are even finding surprises in places we thought we understood. Next door to the well-studied galaxy IC5063, we found a giant radio galaxy, one of the largest known, whose existence had never even been suspected. Its supermassive black hole is generating jets of electrons nearly 5 million light-years long. ASKAP is the only telescope in the world that can see the total extent of this faint emission.”

EMU is an international team of more than 400 researchers led by Professor Andrew Hopkins of Macquarie University. The EMU Pilot Survey is led by former EMU project leader Professor Ray Norris from Western Sydney University.

Access EMU to explore the sky via Zoom in from the big picture down to the finest details, and see what you find.

The study of this discovery is accepted this week in Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia ( PASA).


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