Scientists have recently unveiled an astounding discovery: the largest X-ray map of the universe ever assembled. This groundbreaking achievement comes from the efforts of the German “eROSITA” consortium, which has published data collected by the eROSITA X-ray telescope aboard the Russian-German satellite Spektrum-RG.
The release of the first eROSITA All-Sky Survey Catalogue (eRASS1) represents a significant milestone in X-ray astronomy. According to the Max Planck Society in Germany, which played a vital role in managing the mission, eROSITA has identified more X-ray sources in its initial six months of observation than had been known throughout the entire 60-year history of X-ray astronomy.
An X-ray image of half the #universe: the first publication of the eROSITA sky-survey data release makes public the largest ever catalogue of high-energy cosmic sources 😲 https://t.co/POg5FuVraP @eROSITA_SRG @MPE_Garching pic.twitter.com/X21gnUD6iW
— Max Planck Society (@maxplanckpress) January 31, 2024
The observations, conducted between December 12, 2019, and June 11, 2020, yielded an unprecedented amount of cosmic data. However, it’s important to note that eROSITA was placed in “Safe Mode” in February 2022 and has not resumed scientific operations since then, as reported by the Max Planck Society.
Among the remarkable findings are the detection of approximately 710,000 supermassive black holes residing in distant galaxies. Additionally, the catalog includes 180,000 X-ray emitting stars within our own Milky Way galaxy, along with 12,000 clusters of galaxies. Moreover, a handful of other rare cosmic phenomena, such as X-ray emitting binary stars, supernova remnants, and pulsars, have also been identified.
Andrea Merloni, eROSITA’s principal investigator, expressed astonishment at the sheer magnitude of the discoveries, emphasizing that the number of sources detected within six months surpasses the combined achievements of prominent missions like XMM-Newton and Chandra over nearly 25 years of operation.
The unveiling of this vast X-ray map represents a significant leap forward in our understanding of the universe’s high-energy phenomena, offering invaluable insights into the cosmic landscape and the myriad celestial objects that inhabit it.