Scientists Stunned By Radio Waves From Young Universe
Scientists have detected mysterious bursts of radio waves that last only for a tenth of a blink of an eye, originating billions of light years away. A single burst of radio emission of unknown origin was detected outside the Earth’s galaxy about six years ago, but no one is certain what it was or even if it was real. Scientists have spent the last four years searching for more of these explosive, short-duration radio bursts.
However, a paper published on Friday described four more such bursts, removing any doubt that they are real. The radio bursts last for just a few milliseconds and the furthest one detected was several billion light years away.
The international research team rule out terrestrial sources for the four fast radio bursts and say their brightness and distance suggest they come from cosmological distances when theuniverse was just half its current age.
The burst energetics indicate that they originate from an extreme astrophysical event involving relativistic objects such as neutron stars or black holes.
Study lead Dan Thornton from England’s University of Manchestersaid the findings pointed to some extreme events involving large amounts of mass or energy as the source of the radio bursts.
Astonishingly, the findings — taken from a tiny fraction of the sky — also suggest that there should be one of these signals going off every 10 seconds.
Max-Planck Institute director Michael Kramer said, “With current telescopes we need to be lucky to look at the right spot at the right time. But if we could view the sky with ‘radio eyes’ there would be flashes going off all over the sky every day.” The team,used the CSIRO Parkes 64metre radio telescope in Australia to obtain their results.
Author of the study, professor Matthew Bailes from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, thinks the origin of these explosive bursts may be from magnetic neutron stars, known as ‘magnetars’. He said “Magnetars can give off more energy in a millisecond than our Sun does in 300,000 years and are a leading candidate for the burst”.
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