(CNN) – Astronomers have discovered a powerful radio wave laser known as a megameter in space.
At 5 billion light-years from Earth, the megameter smashed the record for the longest distance ever observed.
The light from this space laser traveled 58 billion kilometers and reached our planet.
An international astronomer led by researcher Marcin Glovaki observed the light with the Mirkat telescope of the South African Radio Astronomical Observatory. (MeerKAT is an acronym for Karoo Array Telescope, preceded by the African word for “more”.)
Glovaki is a Research Associate at the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University in Australia.
Megamasers are formed when two galaxies collide with each other. The megameter was the first hydroxyl to be observed by Meerkat, Glovaki said.
Hydroxyl, a chemical group made up of a hydrogen and an oxygen atom, is found inside soluble galaxies.
“When galaxies collide, the gas they contain becomes extremely dense and causes them to emit concentrated rays of light,” Glovaki explained in a statement.
The research team named the laser Enkalakata, which means “great boss” in Isisulu, the vernacular language of the Zulus in South Africa.
On the first night of a study that lasted more than 3,000 hours with Meerkat, astronomers discovered Megamesser.
“Through one night’s observations, we found a record-breaking megameter,” Glovaki said. “It shows how good the telescope is.”
The research team is using the Meerkat to closely observe the narrow regions of the sky and look at the same features found in the megameter. This will give you more information about the evolution of the universe.
“We plan to make further observations of the megamaser and hope to make many more discoveries,” Glovaki said.
Located in the Karoo region of South Africa, the Meerkat Telescope includes 64 radio antennas that have been in operation since July 2018. This powerful telescope is sensitive to weak radio light.
Meerkat is the forerunner of the Transcontinental Square Array or SKA telescope built in South Africa and Australia.
The range will include thousands of satellite dishes and one million low-frequency antennas in an effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope.
Although these antennas and disks are located in different parts of the world, they together form a telescope with an observation surface of more than 1 square kilometer. In this way, astronomers can study the entire sky much faster than other telescopes.
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