Durham University astronomers have mapped more than a quarter of the northern sky. They have used the Low Frequency Array which is a pan-European radio telescope.
The map reveals a detailed radio image of more than 4.4 million objects. It also revealed a very dynamic picture of our Universe. It now has been made public for the first time.
The vast majority of these objects are billions of light years away. These are either galaxy that harbour massive black holes. They are also rapidly growing new stars. Rarer objects have been discovered. This includes colliding groups of distant galaxies and flaring stars within the Milky Way.
Scientists deployed state-of-the-art data processing algorithms on high performance computers all over Europe, to produce the map. They processed 3,500 hours of observations that occupy 8 petabytes of disk space. This is equivalent to roughly 20,000 laptops.
This data release is by far the largest from the LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey. This presents about a million objects that have never been seen before with any telescope. Almost four million objects have been newly discovered at radio wavelengths.
Durham University scientist Dr. Leah Morabito had said that they have opened the door to new discoveries with this project. They also hope that future work will follow up these new discoveries in even more detail with techniques. In future, scientists will be able to post-process the data with 20 times better resolution. The data presents a major step forward in astrophysics. The data can be used to search for a wide range of signals. This will include nearby planets or galaxies right through to faint signatures in the distant Universe.