South Africa has unveiled a new super radio telescope that will study galaxy formation, a first phase of what will be the world's largest telescope in a project to try to unravel the secrets of the universe.
This detailed image was obtained thanks to the supersensitive antennae of the MeerKAT telescope, which is still not even operating at full capacity. Scientists still don't know anything about these filaments' goal or origins thirty years after discovering them.
Until now, the most powerful radio telescope in the world thought Chime in Canada, and most powerful optical telescope constructed in the Atacama desert, Chile.
Located in South Africa, MEERKAT, an interferometer made up of 64 separate dishes created to produce detailed maps of normally invisible regions of space, captured a panoramic view of the the Galactic Center using infrared, radio, and X-ray wavelengths, which enabled it to penetrate gas and dust that gets in the way of conventional telescopes.
"We wanted to show the science capabilities of this new instrument", says Fernando Camilo, chief scientist of SARAO.
The unveiling ceremony on Friday also displayed a panorama image taken by the MeerKAT telescope. The data in some parts of the array has been aggregated, but now it is nearly ready to use interferometry from around 64 recipes so as to be mapped to normal invisible stretches of space in exceptionally high detail.
The vast amounts of data from the 64 dishes (up to 275 Gbytes per second) are processed in real time by a "correlator", followed by a "science processor", both purpose-built.
Especially jaw-dropping is the telescope's depiction of mysterious "filaments" surrounding the supermassive black hole - and found nowhere else in the galaxy. Those ambitions-and the allure of the SKA-have already attracted astronomers, engineers and data scientists from all over the world.
It is a major milestone in the history of Africa, where investment worth of United States dollars 331 billion on MeerKAT has already started to pay off by providing the results which the scientist wants it for a decade ago, else scientists have to go to America, Europe or Australia.
When functional, it will be looked at as the topmost radio telescope of its kind.
The construction of a MeerKAT cost to the government of the Republic of South Africa 4.4 billion South African rendo.