back to article Africa's MeerKAT looks at the sky, surprises boffins with 1,300 galaxies

The operators of the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa have switched on its first 16 dishes and, pretty much immediately, spotted more than 1,200 new galaxies. If all goes to plan, by the end of next year the facility will have 64 antennae, and will eventually become part of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA …

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Does it have an image feed? Can I follow it?

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Yes. Comparethemeerkat.com

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Comparethemeerkat.com

For J.R.Hartley's downvoters - I can only suppose that you haven't had the pleasure of watching all the adverts for the insurance etc comparison website Comparethemarket.com.

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Pint

Congratulating South Africans...

On MeerKAT radio telescope array. Science people and fans all around the World expecting a lot from this effort.

Cheers to the MeerKAT project!

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Universe, life and everything

I find it fascinating that photons generated in all sorts of celestial objects across the universe spewed out evenly or specific patterns spreads out into the void. The number of photons per area always diminishing, but still there are enough left that a tiny fraction of them reach an insignificant rock circling an mundane star in a non particular spiral arm of a random galaxy. A fraction still large enough that we can build devices to separate them apart based on direction and wavelength, and we can observe the universe almost back to its beginning. A universe that is so full that we can take any small fraction of black sky, build a large enough lens or antenna and find objects there. And when we observe a galaxy that far away the fraction is so small that we can not see most of the individual stars, so basically the photons we receive one second will be from different stars in that galaxy than the ones we receive the next second.

Nearly everything we know about astronomy has come from measuring photons as they hit us here on Earth. Photons that when you consider them individually had near zero chance of actually hitting us.

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Pirate

Re: Universe, life and everything

"Photons that when you consider them individually had near zero chance of actually hitting us."

I was thinking of something along those lines several months ago when I was out stargazing. It hit me that there were uncountable numbers of photons from all over the universe that had been traveling for millions or billions of years just to hit the gravel beside my feet and be snuffed-out. They had left their star long, long ago, so full of energy and so full of hope that they could change the universe just a tiny little bit, but they couldn't even visibly illuminate a piece of rock beside me that didn't even exist when they began their journey. Kinda sad if you think about it too long or too deeply. Which is why anthropomorphism is a bad thing, I guess... I must have been in a funky mood that night.

If you want a more positive brain-exercise, try to guesstimate the cumulative number of photons still "in-flight" between reionization and now. Photons we'll never, ever see or even know for sure they exist, but that are still out there, traveling through the universe at the speed of light. Even to a pea-brained ape like me, that's pretty fucking staggering.

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Re: Universe, life and everything

> non particular spiral arm of a random galaxy

Unfashionable western spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, thank you very much.

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Boffin

Re: Universe, life and everything

Quite right, and accordingly upvoted.

But also: Imagine that you're standing...

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Re: Universe, life and everything

Life, the Universe and Everything is amazing. Who needs drugs when you can expand your mind just thinking about this stuff?

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Alien

Re: Universe, life and everything

Do you think that's photons you’re seeing?

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Happy

Re: Universe, life and everything

"I don't need drugs to enjoy this- just to enhance it!"

Otto.

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Re: Universe, life and everything

"It hit me that there were uncountable numbers of photons from all over the universe that had been traveling for millions or billions of years just to hit the gravel beside my feet and be snuffed-out. They had left their star long, long ago, so full of energy and so full of hope that they could change the universe just a tiny little bit, but they couldn't even visibly illuminate a piece of rock beside me that didn't even exist when they began their journey."

As that single lonely photon dissipated some energy hitting that bit of gravel before bouncing off, it pushed the Earth very slightly in a different direction. Mission accomplished.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Universe, life and everything

@PirateDave This came on while I was reading your post. Light 'Em Up Quite context appropriate.

Which reminds me. Just when one thinks it possible to comprehend the vastness of Space. Along comes Time with all the photons that passed by unseen while the local stars burnt through the eons to make the smallest particles of our own selves.

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That last image. Radio astronomy is starting to look like light astronomy.

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just sayin...

"First light"? It's a radio telescope, different part of the EM spectrum entirely, but otherwise, good show.

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Re: just sayin...

Radio frequency EM radiation is still "light", init. Just light that's not visible to our tiny peepers.

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Bravo

Applied boffinry is way cool.

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CMB

Is that evenly distributed faint texture the CMB radiation or some other artifact?

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Trollface

Re: CMB

It's the back-drop from the NASA studio. Obviously they've had to enlarge the stage somewhat since the moon landings, but it's still there...

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Re: CMB

Ironic is resulting that as Radio-Astronomy increases resolution. CMB is less -well- of simple CMB.

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Pity there isn't another one of these operational - then we could compare the MeerKATs.

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Photons? Dark Energy?

I thought struck me when reading the comment about all the photons on trajectory. If a region with 70 galaxies turns out to have 1200 extra and all this energy is on it's way, how much energy have we been missing here? And as a result how much mass?

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Re: Photons? Dark Energy?

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. How much of the "missing mass" is simply that we've not seen it yet. Maybe there is no dark mater. It's just down the back of the metaphorical sofa.

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Coat

a Fanaroff-Riley Class 2, FR2, object

Don't they mean a 'Far enough-Really' object?

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