New image shows mysterious ‘strange scattering circles’ in space

The secret of space would be revealed. 0:53

(CNN)– There’s a mysterious new class of objects in space, and after capturing their best image yet, astronomers are taking one step closer to understanding these strange celestial spheres.

They are known as odd scattering circles (ORC). Although the idea of ​​ORCs is reminiscent of the goblin-like humanoids from the Lord of the Rings books, these fascinating objects have baffled scientists since their first discovery in 2020.

Astronomers found the strange scattering circles two springs ago using Australia’s SKA Pathfinder telescope, operated by Australia’s pro-Franco science agency CSIRO, or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

Data from the MeerKAT telescope (in green) showing the scattering circles are overlaid with optical and near-infrared data from the Dark Energy Survey.

These space rings are so massive that they represent about a million light sources, 16 times larger than our Milky Way.

Astronomers believe the circles take a billion springs to grow to their largest size and are so large that the objects have extended beyond other galaxies.

Now, a new image taken by the South African Astronomical Radio Observatory’s MeerKAT telescope provides more detail and information. (MeerKat is short for Karoo Array Telescope, preceded by the Afrikaans word for “more”.) The image and results were published in the Royal Astronomical Society’s Monthly Notices on Monday.

Three possible theories

Initially, astronomers thought the odd circles might be galactic shock waves or even helminth hole canyons, among many other ideas.

The researchers have now narrowed the range of theories down to three.

The strange scattering circles could be the remnants of a large explosion at the center of a galaxy, similar to the merger of two supermassive black holes.

Second, they could be powerful jets pumping energetic particles from the center of the galaxy.

Or the third possibility is that they are the result of a shock wave caused by the outflow of stars in a galaxy.

So far, only five odd scattering circles have been mismatched in space.

odd radius circles

The ASKAP radio telescope is located in Western Australia.

“We know that ORCs are rings of faint scattering emissions surrounding a galaxy with a very active sad hole at its center, but we don’t yet know what causes them or why they are so rare,” the co-writer said. author Ray Norris in a statement. Explanation of the study and professor at Film University of the West Sydney and CSIRO.

Until now, odd scattering circles were only incompatible with telescopes that observe through scattering wavelengths.

Visible light, infrared and X-ray telescopes remain to be discovered despite their enormous size.

As astronomers at the radio telescope discover more, these observations could help fill in the many gaps in these strange new objects.

“Guys often want to explain their observations and show that they agree with the best of our knowledge. For me, it’s much more exciting to discover little new things that challenge our previous understanding,” says the study author Jordan Collier, astronomer and bioinformatician, heir to the Inter-University Institute for Data-Intensive Astronomy in South Africa.

Collier created the new image from data collected by MeerKAT.

The MeerKAT telescope in the Karoo region of South Africa comprises an array of 64 broadcast antennas and has been operational since July 2018. The powerful telescope is sensitive to weak scattered light.

The collaboration will allow astronomers to find more circles of odd radii than more sensitive radio telescopes will in the future.

New entry telescope resolution

MeerKAT is a precursor to a future telescope, the Transcontinental Square Kilometer Array, or SKA, which is being built in South Africa and Australia.

odd radius telescope circles

Satellite dishes from the MeerKAT radio telescope are seen beneath a starry paradise in Karoo, South Africa.

“Once built, SKA telescopes will undoubtedly be able to find many more ORCs and tell us more about the life cycle of galaxies,” Norris said in a statement. “The moment SKA goes live, ASKAP and MeerKAT will revolutionize our understanding of the universe faster than ever.”

The array will include thousands of satellite dishes and up to a million step-down antennas to build the world’s largest radio telescope.

Although these dishes and antennas are in two different parts of the world, together they will form a telescope with a home range of over a million square meters, which means astronomers will be able to see all of heaven much faster than with other telescopes. .

Additionally, it will exceed the image resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope, allowing large and detailed images of paradise.

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