'Gigantic' Galaxies Discovered by South African Radio Telescope

Two giant radio galaxies have been discovered with South Africa's powerful MeerKAT telescope, located in the Karoo region, a semi-arid area in the south-west of the country. Radio galaxies get their name from the fact that they release huge beams, or "jets", of radio light. These happen through the interaction between charged particles and strong magnetic fields related to supermassive black holes at the galaxies' hearts. These giant galaxies are much bigger than most of the others in the Universe and are thought to be quite rare. Although millions of radio galaxies are known to exist, only around 800 giants have been found. This population of galaxies was previously hidden from us by radio telescopes' limitations. But the MeerKAT has allowed new discoveries because it can detect faint, diffused light which previous telescopes were unable to do.

InFocus

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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