South Africa's Meerkat Finds Radio Galaxies That Dwarf Our Milky Way

The two giant radio galaxies found with the MeerKAT telescope. In the background is the sky as seen in optical light. Overlaid in red is the radio light from the enormous radio galaxies, as seen by MeerKAT.
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In a patch of sky long trawled across by countless telescopes, astronomers have discovered two gigantic radio galaxies - all thanks to MeerKAT, which spotted these distant objects from deep in the Karoo.

The two galaxies that have been spotted are so huge that to travel across the biggest one would take a spacecraft moving at the speed of light almost 8 million years.

Another indication of their sizes is that the Milky Way that splashes across our night sky is 62 times smaller than these galaxies.

So, it is not surprising astronomers are now describing these as being among the largest objects in the universe.

The reason these monster galaxies were only noticed now has to do with their distance from earth - and the technologically advanced MeerKAT radio telescope that has been quietly scanning the skies from deep inside the Northern Cape.

The galaxies are 3.8 billion light years from Earth.

The two giant radio galaxies found with the MeerKAT telescope. In the background is the sky as seen in optical light. Overlaid in red is the radio light from the enormous radio galaxies, as seen by MeerKAT. Left: MGTC J095959.63+024608.6. Right: MGTC J100016.84+015133.0. (Images: Ian Heywood /...

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