Astronomers have discovered an extremely brief flash of radio waves called a fast radio burst (FRB) that originated in deep space eight billion years ago.
“This pulse of energy, which was three times stronger than scientists thought possible, is also the oldest FRB ever observed,” researchers reported in October in the journal Science. Sciences.
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) last only milliseconds. But despite its short duration, the newly discovered fast radio burst contains as much energy as the Sun emits in 30 years. Reuters‘ Will Dunham. These powerful, short-lived events could provide insight into how much matter exists between galaxies, according to A statement From Macquarie University.
“It’s very exciting, and certainly one of the great applications of fast radio bursts.” Ziggy BillionisAn astronomer at the University of Toronto who did not contribute to the results says: Popular ScienceRahul Rao. “Fast radio bursts are currently the only thing we know of that interact with the intergalactic medium in a way that is meaningful enough for us to be able to measure the properties.”
Since the discovery of the first FRB in 2007, astronomers have observed about 800 others, the data scientist says. Kshitij Agarwal He wrote in conversation last year. But researchers are still not sure of the causes of these phenomena.
Ryan ShannonA co-author of the study and an astronomer at Swinburne University in Australia told Reuters that the most likely source is a type of neutron star with a strong magnetic field called a star. Magnetar. Neutron stars It is the ultra-dense remnant of massive stars that exploded.
“[Magnetars] “It is one of the most extreme objects in the universe, which would be needed to produce such intense explosions,” Shannon told Reuters.
For the new discovery, the researchers resorted to Australian square kilometer matrix (ASKAP), a thirty-plate radio telescope located in the Wagari Yamaji region of Western Australia. ASKAP identified the source of the explosion, and the team then used the Very Large Telescope in Chile to identify the source galaxy.
“The deeper you go into the universe, of course, the fainter the galaxies become, because they are farther away. It is very difficult to determine the host galaxy, and that is what they did.” Sarah Burke Splauersays an astronomer at West Virginia University who was not involved in the study Popular Science.
This galaxy, although fuzzy in its images, appears to have two or three bright spots within it, indicating that the fast radio burst arose when a group of galaxies collided in the early universe. The eight-billion-year-old explosion represents more than half the age of the universe, about 13.7 billion years.
Researchers hope to use fast radio bursts to find out how much hot, spreading gas called plasma exists between galaxies. These intergalactic particles cause fast radio bursts to scatter as they pass by, which astronomers can measure. This enables scientists to Calculate How much plasma is there between the Earth and the location where the fast radio burst started?
“As the sample of these distant explosions grows, it will tell us a lot about how the universe evolved.” Kiyoshi Masuisays an MIT astrophysicist who did not contribute to the results Nature News.
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