Radio Astronomers Discover New Supernova Remnants in Milky Way Galaxy

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Using the ASKAP and Parkes radio telescopes in Australia, astronomers have observed a large section of the Galactic plane of the Milky Way.

A part of the Galactic plane as seen by the ASKAP radio telescope and the Parkes radio telescope, Murriyang, showing supernova remnants and the space between the stars. Image credit: R. Kothes, NRC / PEGASUS Team.

A part of the Galactic plane as seen by the ASKAP radio telescope and the Parkes radio telescope, Murriyang, showing supernova remnants and the space between the stars. Image credit: R. Kothes, NRC / PEGASUS Team.

“Supernova remnants are what is left when a star dies. Models predict that, due to the age and density of the Milky Way, we should see the remnants of many, many stars that have lived and died,” said Macquarie University’s Professor Andrew Hopkins and colleagues.

“However, we have not yet had telescopes sensitive enough to detect these remnants, and e need to detect 5 times more remnants than are currently documented to match predictions.”

The new radio observations were conducted as part of the PEGASUS and EMU surveys.

The PEGASUS survey is one of the many projects building on the Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) project and the POSSUM project, which both use ASKAP to learn more about the cosmos.

“The new composite image shows the Galactic plane in its finest detail yet,” Professor Hopkins said.

“This new picture showcases a region of the Milky Way, only visible to radio telescopes, where we can see extended emission associated with hydrogen gas filling the space between dying stars, related to the birth of new stars, and hot bubbles of gas called supernova remnants.”

“Over twenty new possible supernova remnants have been discovered as a result of combining these images, where only seven were previously known.”

“When we combined the PEGASUS map with that from the EMU and POSSUM observations, the result was marvelous,” said Dr. Ettore Carretti, an astronomer at INAF.

“When we opened the image for the first time, we were amazed by such quality and beauty.”

“PEGASUS has captured a large region of the Galactic plane of our Galaxy full of supernova remnants, regions of ionizing hydrogen and planetary nebulae, which, thanks to the combination of data from the ASKAP and Parkes telescopes, can be studied with extremely high precision and accuracy.”

“With the quality of the new image being extremely clear, we will be able to firm up their understanding of the Galaxy and beyond with future observations,” Professor Hopkins said.

“The eventual results will be an unprecedented view of almost the entire Milky Way, about a hundred times larger than this initial image, but achieving the same level of detail and sensitivity.”

“It is estimated that there may be about 1,500 more supernova remnants in the Galaxy that astronomers haven’t discovered yet.”

“Finding the missing remnants will help us unlock more of an understanding of our Galaxy and its history.”

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