South African telescope reveals thousands of new galaxies

This discovery is just the tip of the iceberg according the team behind the project

A South African telescope has revealed thousands of previously unseen galaxies.

The MeerKat radio telescope discovered 1,300 galaxies in a tiny corner of the universe where only 70 were known before.

The telescope is currently only operating at half of its capacity meaning that once the full 64 receptors are integrated next year it has the potential to reveal even more unseen parts of the universe.

MeerKat is a part of The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) which is a large multi radio telescope project aimed to be built in South Africa. When completed, it will have a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre.

Professor Justin Jonas, SKA South Africa Chief Technologist said: "Based on the results being shown today, we are confident that after all 64 dishes are in place, MeerKAT will be the world's leading telescope of its kind until the advent of SKA." 

According to the team behind the project, the first light images released show how powerful the telescope will be when it is completed.

Dr Fernando Camilo, SKA South Africa Chief Scientist said that the team are "astonished" by these images which he said "demonstrate that MeerKAT has joined the big leagues of world radio astronomy".

MeerKAT First Light image.

The SKA is an international effort to build the world's largest radio telescope which will be 100 times more sensitive than any current radio telescope.

South Africa's Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said: "Government is proud of our scientists and engineers for pioneering a radio telescope that will lead to groundbreaking research."