Astronomy in Africa- News and Updates

Photo of Richat structure as taken from space Credit: NASA/ESA

  • Last week, South Africa’s KAT-7 telescope reached a milestone by producing the first atomic hydrogen spectral line images of a nearby galaxy. Hydrogen gas emits radio emission in a spectral line (the light given off at a specific frequency by an atom or molecule) at a very specific frequency. “Observations of the neutral hydrogen content of galaxies help to form a picture of how galaxies have evolved over cosmic time and show how our own galaxy, the spiral galaxy called the Milky Way, has developed,” said SKA Director Bernie Fanaroff. KAT-7 (Karoo Area Telescope) is a 7-dish working prototype of the planned 64-dish MeerKAT radiotelescope. When built, MeerKAT will be the most sensitive centimetre- wavelength radio telescope in the southern hemisphere.
  • An astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station– which recently flew over the Sahara desert– has taken an image of the Richat structure in Mauritania. This structure, a geological formation in the Maur Adrar Desert, forms a conspicuous bull’s-eye in the desert, making it a frequent sighting by astronauts.
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One thought on “Astronomy in Africa- News and Updates

  1. Amazing picture!

    I wonder where the name “Richat” comes from. It sounds like it may be a French-inspired transliteration of ريشات which means “feathers” in Arabic.

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