A team of radio astronomers using CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) has mapped the entire area of the Stellar Continuum Originating from Radio Physics In Ourgalaxy (SCORPIO) survey, one of the exploration projects of the Evolutionary Map of the Universe (EMU) program.
The Galactic plane is the place in our Milky Way Galaxy where the Solar System resides: it contains countless stars, dust, and gas clouds, as well as a significant amount of dark matter.
Studying the equator of the Milky Way has always been one of the essential objectives for radio astronomers.
Still, the diffuse emission in our Galaxy makes it challenging to obtain artifact-free images: this effectively reduces the quality of the final pictures making data analysis a challenging task.
“New ASKAP observations of the Galactic plane as part of the EMU survey, and later with the SKA project, will allow us to explore a whole series of astrophysical processes, with a very high probability of discovering new classes of objects,” said Dr. Grazia Umana, an astronomer at INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania and the principal investigator of the SCORPIO survey.
“Our ultimate goal is to develop and consolidate our observational skills for the upcoming SKA project to be ready and competitive to lead and participate in SKA Key Science Projects and to exploit its data fully.”
Dr. Umana and colleagues were able to measure almost 4,000 compact radio sources in the so-called SCORPIO field, many of which are unclassified, as well as detecting all the previous sources classified as HII regions or planetary nebulae.
“SCORPIO is the only Galactic field observed so far with ASKAP,” Dr. Umana said.
“It is especially important for the characterization of these Galactic populations because they provide a solid foundation to help design some aspects of the EMU survey.”
“In addition to discovering numerous Galactic radio sources, these observations have highlighted the unique feature of ASKAP to map complex objects at a range of angular scales, critical in studying the Galactic plane.”
The team’s results appear in two papers in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
G. Umana et al. A first glimpse at the Galactic plane with the ASKAP: the SCORPIO field. MNRAS, published online May 12, 2021; doi: 10.1093/mnras/stab1279
S. Riggi et al. 2021. Evolutionary map of the Universe (EMU): Compact radio sources in the SCORPIO field towards the Galactic plane. MNRAS 502 (1): 60-79; doi: 10.1093/mnras/stab028