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South African & US scientists use MeerKAT telescope to solve the mystery of ‘X galaxies’

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South Africa's MeerKAT solves mystery of 'X-galaxies'On May 11, 2020, A team of astronomers from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), the (US) National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the University of Pretoria, and Rhodes University(Both in South Africa), have used the MeerKAT telescope to solve a longstanding puzzle in ‘X’-shaped radio galaxies.

Key Points:

i.It was said that some galaxies emit X-shaped radio waves from black holes that hide at their centres.


  • The scientists observing a galaxy called PKS 2014-55 that’s situated 800 million light years away from Earth by using the telescope (8 km in diameter) that consists of 64 radio dishes located in the Karoo semi-desert in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.
  • The radio band images described as a ‘double boomerang’, sent by the telescope, shows the 2 powerful jets of radio waves of blue colour can be seen extending up to 2.5 million light-years into space (the distance between the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy). Significantly, due to the pressure of tenuous intergalactic gas, both of them are ‘turned back’.
  • Both the jets deflected by its relatively high gas pressure into the shorter, horizontal, arms of the boomerang as they turned back towards the centre.

The background image shows visible light from myriad galaxies in the distant universe.

iii.The results have been published in the journal ‘Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society’.