This new image of galaxy Messier 82, acquired by astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology, is said to be “the sharpest astronomical image ever taken at very long radio wavelengths”. In fact it’s clear enough to show tiny, bright dots that are thought to be supernova remnants.
While previous images have shown M 82 to be is a swirling mass of stars, gas and dust, this images — captured by the Lofar radio telescope — is much more detailed. The supernova remnants sit within a huge, diffuse cloud of charged particles, or plasma, which absorbs radio waves from these sources. The scientists intend to study these images to see how different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum pass through the plasma. From there, they should be able to gain a clearer idea about how galaxies like M 82 works.
The image was captured by the Low Frequency Array (Lofar), a radio telescope which consists of thousands of antennas spread across northern Europe with its core in the Netherlands. The M 82 galaxy sits 11.5 million light years from Earth. [arXiv via Chalmers]