Astronomers in Australia have picked up cosmic radio waves originating from a distant galaxy.
The signal was detected by the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), a new radio telescope located approximately 300km inland from Geraldton on the country’s west coast.
The project is designed to locate distant galaxies beyond the detection range of most other radio telescopes, a goal made possible by ASKAP’s fast survey speed and high sensitivity.
This latest signal, which originates from a galaxy known as PKS B1740-517, is over five billion years old and exhibits a cold hydrogen gas imprint, the foundation for the formation of new stars.
The find is particularly encouraging and opens up the doors to more discoveries in the future.
“We’ll be hunting for galaxies that are five to eight billion years old, a timespan that represents a fifth of the universe’s history,” said astrophysicist Elaine Sadler. “We want to learn how much hydrogen galaxies had in this period for forming stars. Until now we’ve had few tools for doing that.”