Two Australian sky surveys named Wallaby and Dingo are expected to discover 700,000 galaxies over the course of the new year. A huge new radio telescope facility in Western Australia will scour vast regions of space to provide clues about galaxy evolution.
The £65m Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (Askap) is located in a remote desert region of Western Australia, 196 miles from the port of Geraldton. It consists of 36 dishes, each 12 metres (39ft) wide, which work together as a single antenna.
Askap will also help astronomers investigate one of the greatest mysteries of the universe: dark energy. This is the force which appears to be causing galaxies to fly apart at an accelerating rate. Although no one is sure what dark energy is, it is believed to account for 73% of the universe.
Scientists were able to predict Askap's capabilities by combining its specifications with computer simulations. Dr Alan Duffy, a member of the Askap team from the University of Western Australia, said: "Askap is a highly capable telescope. Its surveys will find more galaxies, further away, and will be able to study them in more detail than any other radio telescope in the world.
"We predict that Wallaby will find an amazing 600,000 new galaxies and Dingo 100,000, spread over trillions of cubic light years of space."
The telescope will examine galactic hydrogen gas – the fuel that forms stars – to see how galaxies have changed in the past 4bn years.