The 1.28 GHz MeerKAT Galactic Center Mosaic
The inner ~200 pc region of the Galaxy contains a 4 million M⊙ supermassive black hole (SMBH), significant quantities of molecular gas, and star formation and cosmic-ray energy densities that are roughly two orders of magnitude higher than the corresponding levels in the Galactic disk. At a distance of only 8.2 kpc, the region presents astronomers with a unique opportunity to study a diverse range of energetic astrophysical phenomena, from stellar objects in extreme environments, to the SMBH and star-formation-driven feedback processes that are known to influence the evolution of galaxies as a whole. We present a new survey of the Galactic center conducted with the South African MeerKAT radio telescope. Radio imaging offers a view that is unaffected by the large quantities of dust that obscure the region at other wavelengths, and a scene of striking complexity is revealed. We produce total-intensity and spectral-index mosaics of the region from 20 pointings (144 hr on-target in total), covering 6.5 square degrees with an angular resolution of 4″ at a central frequency of 1.28 GHz. Many new features are revealed for the first time due to a combination of MeerKAT's high sensitivity, exceptional u, v-plane coverage, and geographical vantage point. We highlight some initial survey results, including new supernova remnant candidates, many new nonthermal filament complexes, and enhanced views of the Radio Arc bubble, Sagittarius A, and Sagittarius B regions. This project is a South African Radio Astronomy Observatory public legacy survey, and the image products are made available with this article.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- February 2022
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 29 pages, 15 figures, 3 tables, accepted for publication in the The Astrophysical Journal. Replacement arXiv version with higher quality figures