The images are of the radio waves emitted by the galaxies. Researchers often study the radio waves from astronomical objects rather than the visible l

Astronomers see galaxies in ultra-high definition

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2021-08-19 11:30:05

The images are of the radio waves emitted by the galaxies. Researchers often study the radio waves from astronomical objects rather than the visible light they give off because it enables them to see things that would otherwise be blocked by the Earth's atmosphere or dust and gas in faraway galaxies.

Many regions of space that are dark to our eyes, actually burn brightly in the radio waves they give off. This allows astronomers to peer into star-forming regions or into the heart of galaxies.

What is new is that the team has dramatically improved the resolution of radio images by linking together more than 70,000 small antennae spread across nine European counties.

Combining radio signals from so many antennas is not a straight-forward process. The team has spent six years developing a completely new way of collecting the signal from each antenna, digitising it, transporting it to a to central processor, and then combining all the data into images that are not only of enormous scientific interest but also of great beauty.

"To work on the data for so long, and then to finally get such images and be able be the first person to see what it looks like is just incredible," she told BBC News.

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