Giant Galaxy ‘Centaurus A’ in News

Scientists used two Australian radio telescopes and several optical telescopes to observe a nearby radio galaxy known as Centaurus A.

As the closest radio galaxy to Earth, Centaurus A is the perfect ‘cosmic laboratory’ to study the physical processes responsible for moving material and energy away from the galaxy’s core.

Centaurus A is 12 million light-years away from Earth — just down the road in astronomical terms — and is a popular target for amateur and professional astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere due to its size, elegant dust lanes, and prominent plumes of material.

Being so close to Earth and so big actually makes studying this galaxy a real challenge.

Scientists used the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and Parkes — these radio telescopes both have large fields of view, allowing them to image a large portion of sky and see all of Centaurus A at once.

The MWA also has superb sensitivity allowing the large-scale structure of Centaurus A to be imaged in great detail.

The MWA is a low frequency radio telescope located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia’s Mid West, operated by Curtin University on behalf of an international consortium.

The Parkes Observatory is 64-metre radio telescope commonly known as “the Dish” located in New South Wales and operated by CSIRO.

Observations from several optical telescopes were also used for this work — the Magellan Telescope in Chile, Terroux Observatory in Canberra, and High View Observatory in Auckland.