Scientist Intercepts Radio Signal From Galaxy 2.5 Billion Light Years Away

By Carlos Gutierrez Jan 05, 2017 10:05 AM EST
Mysterious radio burst came from a galaxy
Mysterious radio burst came from a galaxy

Scientists have nailed down a source of fast radio bursts, a dim dwarf galaxy 2.5 billion light years from our planet is sending strange millisecond-long blasts of radio waves, scientists repoted Wednesday in Nature and Astrophysical Journal Letters. The bursts traverse vast expanses of intergalactic space and time before reaching our planet.

Duncan Lorimer, the astronomer who reported the first detection in history of a fast radio burst (FRB) in 2007, declared: "This really is the first ironclad association of a fast radio burst with another astronomical source, so it is a pretty huge result," 

FRBs are brief pulses of radio waves, they flare with the power of about 500 million suns. Scientists have recorded 18 of these signals, but studies suggest there could be even 10,000 a day. 

There are many theories on the origin of FRBs

Many scientists think the bursts are emitted by very far neutron stars, the super-dense embers of exploded suns. Some scientists believe they must originate in our galaxy. And others suggest that FRBs could be caused by cataclysms like a collision of two stars or a supernova. 

In spring, researchers reviewing the archival data from Arecibo Observatory found evidence that bursts came repeatedly from the same spot in the sky. Each one had the telltale signature of an FRB: High frequency radio waves arrived first and then they were followed by lower frequencies, which get stretched out and slowed down when traveling across the space. The signal, FRB 121102, was definitely repeating, and it certainly traveled a long distance to reach Earth. 

FRBs were discovered in 2007, when an astrophysicist was studying data of the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia. He found that in 2001 the telescope had detected a strangely powerful eruption of energy which lasted only five milliseconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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