Australian astronomers expect two sky surveys to discover some 700,000 new galaxies in 2013. Wallaby and Dingo, as the surveys have been officially named, opened earlier last year as part of the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (Askap).
The $105 million Askap is located in a remote desert region of Western Australia and consists of 36 dishes, each 39 feet wide. These would work together as a single antenna scanning the vast regions of space to locate new galaxies and provide clues about galactic evolution.
According to astronomers, Askap would also investigate dark energy, one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. Dark energy was the force, which astronomers believed was causing galaxies to break apart at an accelerating rate, though they still had no clear idea about what dark energy was. They believe it accounted for 73 per cent of the universe.
According to Dr Alan Duffy, an Askap team member from the University of Western Australia, Askap is a highly capable telescope that could discover more galaxies further away, and study them in more detail than any other radio telescope in the world. The astronomers predicted that Wallaby would find an amazing 600,000 new galaxies and Dingo 100,000, spread over trillions of cubic light years of space, it added.
The telescope system would also examine galactic hydrogen gas - the fuel that formed stars - to see how galaxies had evolved over the past 4 billion years.
Askap forms the first component of an even more ambitious project, the Square Kilometer Array, comprising radio dishes in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand all linked together to create the world's largest radio telescope, set to be operational in 2019.