MeerKAT telescope discovers 2 giant radio galaxies

A radio galaxy is one that has a supermassive black hole in its centre.

Two of the giant radio galaxies discovered by the MeerKat radio telescope. Picture: I.Heywood (Oxford/Rhodes/SARAO)

CAPE TOWN - The MeerKAT radio telescope, outside Carnarvon, has made another exciting find.

In a discovery described by scientists as being "quite rare", two giant radio galaxies were discovered by one of the facility's projects, the MIGHTEE survey.

A radio galaxy is one that has a supermassive black hole in its centre.

When interstellar gas falls in towards the black hole, it becomes active and releases huge amounts of energy from this region.

Post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Cape Town, Dr Jacinta Delhaize is the lead author of the research.

"These are staring off into space, up to huge distances from the central part of the galaxy where the super black hole and where the stars are and these are glowing but not in optical light like we see with our eyes but in radio light, that's why we call these radio galaxies."

Delhaize explains what makes this discovery so significant.

"The galaxies that we found are bigger than 93% of any other giants that have been found before. These are absolutely enormous and are 62 times the size of the Milky Way. It takes light about 6.5 million light years to get from one end to the other end. They're really enormous."

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