LOFAR discovers new giant galaxy in all-sky survey

Mar 20, 2013
Overlay of the new GRG (blue-white colors) on an optical image from the Digitized Sky survey. The inset shows the central galaxy triplet (image from Sloan Digital Sky Survey). The image is about 2 Mpc across.

A team of astronomers led by ASTRON astronomer Dr. George Heald has discovered a previously unknown gigantic radio galaxy, using initial images from a new, ongoing all-sky radio survey. The galaxy was found using the powerful International LOFAR Telescope (ILT), built and designed by ASTRON.

The team is currently performing 's first all-sky imaging survey, the Multi-frequency Snapshot (MSSS). While browsing the first set of MSSS images, Dr. Heald identified a new source the size of the full moon projected on the sky. The is associated with material ejected from one member of an interacting galaxy triplet system tens to hundreds of millions of years ago. The physical extent of the material is much larger than the galaxy system itself, extending millions of light years across intergalactic space. The MSSS survey is still ongoing, and is poised to discover many new sources like this one.

The new galaxy is a member of a class of objects called Giant Radio (GRGs). GRGs are a type of radio galaxy with extremely large physical size, suggesting that they are either very powerful or very old. LOFAR is an effective tool to find new GRGs like this one because of its extreme sensitivity to such large objects, combined with its operation at low frequencies that are well suited to observing old sources.

The center of the new GRG is associated with one member of a galaxy triplet known as UGC 09555. The central galaxy is located at a redshift of z=0.054536, or 750 million light years from Earth. The central radio source was previously known and has a flat , typical of giant .

LOFAR's MSSS survey is a concerted effort to image the entire northern sky at very low , between 30 and 160 MHz (wavelengths from 2m to 10m). The primary aim of the survey is to perform an initial shallow scan of the sky, in order to create an all-sky model that will support the calibration of much deeper observations. It is comparable in sensitivity and angular resolution to previous surveys with 'classical' radio telescopes like the Very Large Array (VLA) in the USA, ASTRON's Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT), and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India. MSSS is unique in that it operates at substantially lower frequencies, and is therefore poised to uncover new sources that were missed by previous surveys. Its broad bandwidth coverage is also novel in all-sky radio surveys, and will be used to provide additional information about the detected objects.

Explore further: Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Colliding galaxy cluster unravelled

May 24, 2012

An international team of astronomers has used the International LOFAR Telescope from ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, to study the formation of the galaxy cluster Abell 2256.

LOFAR: Giant radio telescope goes multi-national

Feb 03, 2011

In the quest to discover more about our Universe and the birth of stars and galaxies, a new UK telescope connected for the first time to others across Europe has delivered its first 'radio pictures'. The images ...

LOFAR takes the pulse of the radio sky

Apr 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A powerful new telescope is allowing an international team led by University of Manchester scientists to have their “best-ever look” at pulsars – rapidly rotating neutron stars ...

Super-massive black hole inflates giant bubble

Oct 29, 2012

Like symbiotic species, a galaxy and its central black hole lead intimately connected lives. The details of this relationship still pose many puzzles for astronomers. Some black holes actively accrete matter. ...

A multi-wavelength view of radio galaxy Hercules A

Nov 29, 2012

(Phys.org)—Spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a super massive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A illustrate the combined imaging power of two of astronomy's ...

Recommended for you

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

14 hours ago

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...

Pushy neighbors force stellar twins to diverge

21 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Much like an environment influences people, so too do cosmic communities affect even giant dazzling stars: Peering deep into the Milky Way galaxy's center from a high-flying observatory, Cornell ...

Image: Multiple protostars within IRAS 20324+4057

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —A bright blue tadpole appears to swim through the inky blackness of space. Known as IRAS 20324+4057 but dubbed "the Tadpole", this clump of gas and dust has given birth to a bright protostar, ...

Research group to study interstellar molecules

Apr 11, 2014

From April 2014, a new group will study interstellar molecules and use them to explore the entire star and planet formation process at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. Newly appointed ...

Astronomers suggest more accurate star formation rates

Apr 10, 2014

(Phys.org) —Astronomers have found a new way of predicting the rate at which a molecular cloud—a stellar nursery—will form new stars. Using a novel technique to reconstruct a cloud's 3-D structure, ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

El_Nose
3 / 5 (2) Mar 20, 2013
Headline we just found the biggest ....

....well how big was it????

turns out there is a clue in the caption of the picture - emphasis on clue as it is not the size - but not in the article

a fifth grader might not make that mistake
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (1) Mar 20, 2013
Does it say "biggest"? The headline just says they've found a GRG that was previously unknown.
El_Nose
1 / 5 (1) Mar 26, 2013
anytime 'gigantic' is used the average person like me wants to know how big gigantic is meant to encompass.
Fleetfoot
not rated yet Mar 26, 2013
The caption says the image is about 2MPc across.

This article from 2007 says J1420–0545 was then the largest known GRG at 4.69MPc so a bit more than double the size. 15 million light years across is big by most standards.

http://iopscience...ulltext/

More news stories

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of a Saturn moon

(Phys.org) —NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet's known ...

Vegetables on Mars within ten years?

The soil on Mars may be suitable for cultivating food crops – this is the prognosis of a study by plant ecologist Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen UR. This would prove highly practical if we ever decide to ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.