'Dancing ghosts': A new, deeper scan of the sky throws up surprises for astronomers

This article was first published by The Conversation. Space.com's Expert voices: Op-Ed and Insights was contributed by the publication.Ray Norris is Professor, School of Science at Western Sydney UniversityTwo ghosts were seen dancing in the cosmos as we scanned through fresh data from the telescope. It was the first time we'd ever seen something like it, and we didn't know what they were.We discovered that we were looking at two radio galaxies about a billion light-years away, several weeks later. Each one has a supermassive dark hole at its center, which emits jets of electrons bent into bizarre shapes by an intergalactic winds.We believe that the streams of electrons, shown as curved Arrows, are caused by two galaxies. We don't know what causes the filament labeled 3. (Image credit: Jayanne English and Ray Norris, using data from EMU & the Dark Energy Survey).But where is the intergalactic wind? It is so complicated. What is causing these radio emissions? It is still unclear what exactly is happening here. We will need to continue observations and modeling until we get the details right.As we begin to get used to surprises, we are scanning the sky in the Evolutionary Map of the Universe project (EMU), using CSIRO’s new Australian Square Kilometre Array (ASKAP) radio telescope. This radio telescope probes deeper into the Universe then any other. You are more likely to discover new things if you dare to go places no telescope has ever gone before.Many surprises can be found by deep searchingImage produced by the EMU Pilot Survey. At the bottom left is the full moon. This image shows the dancing ghosts barely visible. (Image credit: Ray Norris, EMU data. Image CreditOne of many surprises that we found during our first deep sky search using ASKAP was the Dancing Ghosts. The EMU Pilot Survey is the name of this search. It will be described in detail in the paper due to appear in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia.The first "Odd Radio Circle". The radio data are in green, and the colored and white data shows the optical background of the Dark Energy Survey. Jayanne English created this image using data from EMU, the Dark Energy Survey.The EMU Pilot Survey's first major surprise was the discovery of strange Odd Radio Circles. These are radio emission rings that appear to be nearly one million light years in diameter, and surround distant galaxies.Because they are so rare and small, these were never seen before. Although we don't yet know their exact nature, we are working hard to discover.Continue reading: "WTF?" Astronomers are thrilled to discover new ghostly circles in sky. Current theories can't explain them.Even in areas we thought we knew, we are discovering surprises. We discovered a radio giant galaxy next to the well-studied galaxy IC5063. It was one of the largest known and had never been suspected.The image shows a giant radio galaxy that contains plumes of electrons nearly 5,000,000 light years across. These plumes were not seen before the EMU Pilot Survey. However, the galaxy IC5063 (the bright blob at the centre) has been extensively studied. The radio emission (white), is superimposed upon an optical imge, (coloured), from the dark energy survey. (Image credit: Ray Norris, Dark Energy Survey data and EMU data.The new galaxy also contains a supermassive dark hole that emits jets of electrons almost 5 million light-years long. ASKAP is only telescope that can view the entire extent of this faint emission.What EMU can doSupermassive black hole in quasars or active galaxies are the most common sources of radio emission. They produce extremely bright signals, and they are the main source of radio emissions. Radio telescopes have never been able to detect the fainter radio emission coming from normal spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way.EMU is able to see them all. EMU can see almost all of the spiral galaxies within the near universe, which were previously only visible with optical and infrared telescopes. EMU can trace the spiral arms of the closest ones.Galaxy NGC 7125 with EMU radio (contours), overlaid on an optical (colored) image from the Dark Energy Survey. Image credit: Baerbel Koribalski created the image from EMU and Dark Energy Survey data.EMU will allow us to understand how new stars are born in these galaxies.These were the first results of the EMU project which began in 2009. Over 400 scientists from more than 20 countries have spent 12 years working with CSIRO engineers to create the telescope. Although it has been a long process, we finally have the incredible data we've been waiting for.This is just the beginning. EMU will continue to use the ASKAP telescope over the next few decades to expand its knowledge base and find more. EMU data will be made available to the public so that other astronomers around the globe can use it for their own research and make new discoveries.Don't believe me? EMU Pilot Survey data can be used to explore the radio sky by yourself. You can use the zoomable image on this website.Zoom in with your mouse wheel from the large picture to see the details. You might even find something that the astronomers missed.This article was republished by The Conversation under Creative Commons. You can read the original article.Follow Expert Voices to keep up with the debates and issues. You can also join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter. These views are the author's and may not reflect those of the publisher.