Des chercheurs mettent au point un Google Maps de l’univers et découvrent des millions de galaxies

 Des chercheurs mettent au point un Google Maps de l’univers et découvrent des millions de galaxies

Des astronomes australiens sont parvenus à cartographier 83 % du ciel en dix jours seulement grâce à un nouveau radiotélescope, l’ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder). Au total, ce sont environ trois millions de galaxies inconnues jusqu’alors repérées en seulement 300 heures dans le cadre du programme du Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey. Il s’agit d’un record tant au niveau du nombre de galaxies identifiées que du temps qu’il a fallu aux chercheurs pour y parvenir.

Le radiotélescope a ainsi créé « une carte de l’Univers plus détaillée que jamais et à une vitesse record », récoltant pas moins de 13,5 exaoctets de données brutes. Grâce au supercalculateur Galaxy du Pawsey Supercomputing Center, il a été possible de convertir ces données en images 2D contenant pas moins de 70 milliards de pixels.

Percer les secrets de l’univers

Le Google Maps de l’univers est composé de 903 images combinées en une seule pour former une carte du ciel et constituer une aide précieuse aux scientifiques pour percer les secrets les plus profonds de l’univers. « Tout cela est rendu possible grâce à des récepteurs innovants développés par CSIRO qui intègrent une technologie d’alimentation à balayage progressif, qui voit ASKAP générer plus de données brutes à un rythme plus rapide que l’ensemble du trafic Internet de l’Australie », a indiqué le directeur général du CSIRO, l’agence scientifique nationale australienne, le Dr Larry Marshall.

Le radiotélescope profite d’un « large champ de vision, généré par les nouveaux récepteurs conçus par CSIRO, qui permettent à ASKAP de prendre des photos panoramiques du ciel avec des détails étonnants ». L’outil d’astronomie se base sur le spectre électromagnétique émis par la plupart des objets de l’univers pour les détecter, mais aussi pour les étudier. Sa technologie a permis de cartographier le ciel plus rapidement qu’auparavant, passant de plusieurs années à quelques semaines seulement, ouvrant ainsi la voie à de nouvelles découvertes scientifiques potentielles.

« Ce recensement de l’Univers sera utilisé par les astronomes du monde entier pour explorer l’inconnu et étudier tout, de la formation des étoiles à la façon dont les galaxies et leurs trous noirs super-massifs évoluent et interagissent », a déclaré le Dr David McConnell, auteur principal et astronome du CSIRO.

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