By Lebo Tshangela
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 28- Astronomers at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) here have discovered three extremely luminous gamma-ray sources in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), the satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, using High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) telescopes.
After seven years of collecting 200 hours of data, the scientists found these new sources, namely, the Pulsar Wind Nebula, Supernova Remnant, and the Superbubble and their discovery was featured in the latest edition of the scientific journal, Science, in a research paper entitled “The exceptionally powerful TeV ƴ-ray emitters in the Large Magellanic Cloud”.
Wits scientists are part of a multinational team of astronomers working on the H.E.S.S telescope. Others are from North West University, and the universities of the Free State and Johannesburg.
Speaking to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Tuesday, Senior Lecturer at the Wits Centre for Astrophysics Nukri Komin said: “This is a breakthrough because it’s the first time that we can see such objects in the external galaxy. We see the very same objects as in the Milky Way but in the external galaxy.
“What we have discovered so far in gamma ray is stellar objects, remnants of exploding stars in the Milky Way from external galaxies. We have discovered an emission from the entire galaxy of from the central black hole in certain galaxies.”
The H.E.S.S. telescope is a system of Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescopes for the investigation of cosmic gamma rays in the energy range of 30 gigaelectronvolt (GeV), a unit of energy equal to a billion electron volts to 100 teraelectronvolt )TeV).
Gamma rays are electromagnetic radiation of an extremely high frequency and are therefore high energy photons.