"Rather than typical interstellar dust, these researchers appear to have detected vast streamers of gravel -- essentially a long and winding road in space," said NRAO astronomer Jay Lockman, who was not involved in these observations. "We've known about dust specks and we have known that there are things the size of asteroids and planets, but if we can confirm these results it would add a new population of rocky particles to interstellar space."
A paper detailing these results is accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The GBT is the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope. Its location in the National Radio Quiet Zone and the West Virginia Radio Astronomy Zone protects the incredibly sensitive telescope from unwanted radio interference.
Later this year, the GBT will receive two new, more advanced high frequency cameras: MUSTANG-1.5, the even-more-sensitive successor to MUSTANG, and ARGUS, a camera designed for mapping the distribution of organic molecules in space.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.