A stunning image captured by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, shows one of the Milky Way’s closest neighbours in new detail.

Lead author of the study, Dr Nickolas Pingel, says it is the clearest ever picture of hydrogen emitted from the Small Magellanic Cloud.

“The clarity of this image is unprecedented,” he said.

“We’re able to see all of the small-scale structures for the first time. It’s an important step in understanding the role hydrogen plays in the evolution of galaxies.

“For example, you can see holes within the gas. This shows us that hydrogen interacts with supernovae.”

This study focused on the Small Magellanic Cloud – the nearest satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

The team used the CSIRO’s ASKAP radio telescope and high-tech software to capture and process 100 hours of data.

Now they hope to take the project a step further.

“This specific image was part of a pilot survey,” Dr Pingel said.

“Over the next year we are going to collect more observations. Eventually we’ll be able to connect them and make a giant mosaic which will show how this galaxy connects to its nearby neighbours.”

The study has been published online.

The project is part of the Galactic ASKAP (GASKAP) Survey, one of several priority projects to be undertaken with the ASKAP radio telescope. ASKAP is a radio telescope located in Western Australia. It has 36 dish antennas which work together as one telescope and can generate more raw data at a faster rate than Australia’s entire internet traffic. 

CSIRO acknowledges the Wajarri Yamatji as the traditional owners of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory site where ASKAP is located.

More information about ASKAP is available here.

Top image: Supplied by Dr Nickolas Pingel and research team

You may also like

Article Card Image

ANU desalination breakthrough to bolster global water security as planet warms 

A simpler and more cost-efficient method for removing salt from seawater using heat, developed by scientists from The Australian National University (ANU), could address unprecedented global water shortages. 

Article Card Image

Bigger is better: male proboscis monkeys’ enhanced noses evolved to attract mates

Male proboscis monkeys' nasal cavities evolved to allow them to emit louder and deeper calls to assert their health and dominance and attract females, according to world-first research from ANU.

Article Card Image

Six ANU researchers elected to the Australian Academy of Science

A number of talented ANU researchers have been elected as Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science.

Subscribe to ANU Reporter