Mysterious space radio waves
finally pinpointed by scientists
Astronomers have localized the location of a mysterious radio wave from across the universe, 3.6 billion light-years away
MURCHISON / AUSTRALIA — Australian scientists have for the first time pinpointed the precise location of a mysterious burst of radio waves that originated in another galaxy.
According to a release by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or CSIRO, researchers in a world's first have identified the exact location of a great one-off rupture of cosmic radio waves.
New Atlas reported that fast radio bursts are one of the most perplexing mysteries of the space age. So what in the galaxy are they and why haven't their origins been located before?
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are millisecond-long signals which are known to repeat. However, most are single bursts, making them extremely challenging to localize. They come from all corners of the universe and were discovered in 2007, with 85 of them since detected. Nobody has been able to understand where they're coming from or what's causing them, until now.
An Australian led team of astronomers have now located the galaxy from where one of these FRB waves originated, some 3.6 billion light-years away. The discovery was made using CSIRO's new Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, a radio telescope in Western Australia.
The galaxy was then pictured using the three largest optical telescopes on the planet, Keck, Gemini South, and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.
CSIRO lead author Keith Bannister said, "This is the big breakthrough that the field has been waiting for since astronomers discovered fast radio bursts in 2007."
So, how has this new technology allowed them to localize the radio signal?
The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder is a design of multiple dish antennas. The burst had to travel a different distance to contact each dish, thus reaching them all at a somewhat different time, allowing for pinpoint accuracy.
Adam Deller of Swinburne University of Technology said, "From these tiny time differences — just a fraction of a billionth of a second — we identified the burst's home galaxy and even its exact starting point, 13,000 light years out from the galaxy's center in the galactic suburbs."
The cause of the burst remains unknown.
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