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WALLABY, or the Widefield ASKAP L-band Legacy All-sky Blind survey, is a radio telescope in Western Australia that is helping astronomers build a three-dimensional map of the night sky, mapping galaxies as far as a billion light years away.
Hundreds of galaxies have been surveyed in Phase 1 of WALLABY, covering the equivalent area of over 700 full moons. When the survey ends, a quarter of a million galaxies are expected to be catalogued, helping researchers measure the dark-matter distribution, internal motion of galaxies, and how these systems evolve and interact.
Radio astronomy involves tracking the signals from radio waves and helps detect and trace stellar objects that cannot be traced by light. Therefore, barriers posed by cosmic dust are removed and the scale and size of WALLABY means that it will be possible to investigate the universe at a scale impossible with optical telescopes. The WALLABY project will provide pictures on where galaxies are actually located in relation to one another in three-dimensional space. It will be able to tell apart galaxies that appear clustered together but are actually millions of light years apart.
So far, over 30 terabytes of data collected each eight-hour day from the radio telescope and over 600 galaxies measured, with several not previously catalogued at any other waveband. The observatory is located at one of the most radio-quiet locations in the world, allowing projects like WALLABY to find narrow and faint astronomical signals without being swamped by radio interference.
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