The MeerKAT radio telescope was officially inaugurated on 13 July 2018 by Deputy President David Mabuza.
MeerKAT is a South African project and a precursor to the larger international Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which was built and is operated by SARAO in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape.
At the launch event, a panorama obtained with the new telescope was unveiled, which the organisation said reveals the clearest view yet of the region surrounding the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy.
“We wanted to show the science capabilities of this new instrument,” said Fernando Camilo, the chief scientist at SARAO.
The centre of the Milky Way is 25,000 light-years away from Earth and lies behind the constellation Sagittarius. It is obscured by intervening clouds of gas and dust, making it invisible from Earth using ordinary telescopes.
However, infrared, X-ray, and radio wavelengths penetrate the dust and open a window into this distinctive region.
“This is one of several very exciting new views of the universe already observed by the telescope,” said SARAO.