The Small Magellanic Cloud in one shot with ASKAP, December 2017
The recent release of this stunning image of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) made with data taken from 16 of ASKAP's 36 antennas highlights ASKAP’s great speed and resolution. The last time the SMC was imaged by a radio telescope, it took 320 pointings (by ATCA). In contrast, this new image was made in one shot – over three nights – using only 16 of ASKAP’s 36 receivers. Data from Parkes was added to pick up faint details. 

The new image reveals more gas around the edges of the galaxy and these features are more than three times smaller than we’ve seen before - enabling examination of the detailed interaction of the SMC and its neighbouring galaxies. 

The SMC is one of our nearest and smallest galactic neighbours - the bad news for this dwarf galaxy is that it's on track to be (eventually) consumed by the Milky Way.

Professor Naomi McClure-Griffiths from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, who jointly led the work with Professor John Dickey of the University of Tasmania, says the new image shows that the Small Magellanic Cloud’s very dynamic past can be used to predict its future.

“Hydrogen is the fundamental building block of all galaxies and shows off the more extended structure of a galaxy than its stars and dust.”

The result covers a larger area of the sky than previously achieved, revealing more of the outer parts of the Small Magellanic Cloud. Data from our Parkes radio telescope was also added to pick up faint details.

So the new image is bigger, has finer detail, and is more sensitive than previous radio images of the Small Magellanic Cloud.

According to Dr Phil Edwards, leader of our astronomy science program, this is just a taste of what’s to come. “This stunning new image showcases the wide field-of-view of the ASKAP telescope. The depth of our images will only get better when the full array comes online next year.”