Scientists trace for the first time the origin of a mysterious fast radio burst, revealing that his home galaxy is 3.6 billion light years away
- Scientists have for the first time discovered the source of a one-off fast radio burst
- In the past, only one was traced back to its origin, and that was a repeating signal
- Team says the burst that performed in 2018 comes from Galaxy 3.6 billion light years later
Scientists have for the first time found the source of a mysterious one-time pulse of cosmic energy known as a rapid radio burst.
Fast radio bursts (FRB & # 39; s) have many years of perplexed researchers, appearing as volatile signals from the distant universe that cannot yet be explained definitively.
These short flashes are thought to come from black holes or neutron stars, although some even speculate that they are of extraterrestrial origin.
While scientists have recently been able to trace the origin of a repeating FRB, which pulsed many times over a number of months, it is much more challenging to find the source of a single burst that lasts less than a millisecond.
In a remarkable breakthrough, an Australian-led team with the Gemini South telescope in Chile said they had followed a single FRB to a galaxy about 3.6 billion light-years away.
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Scientists have for the first time found the source of a mysterious one-time pulse of cosmic energy known as a rapid radio burst. The above impression of the artist shows the signal and its origin billions of light years away
& # 39; The main challenge is to identify FRB & # 39; s that only blink once and are gone & # 39 ;, says Keith Bannister of the Commonwealth Community Science and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), who is the Australian team led.
The one-time FRB, known as FRB 180924, was spotted in September 2018 using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope.
This radio telescope array has 36 antennas that work together as a single instrument to scour the sky on FRB's.
By calculating the small differences in the amount of time that light reaches each of the 36 antennas, the team says it could follow the burst to its own home.
& # 39; From these small time differences – only a fraction of a billionth of a second – we identified the home world of the burst, & # 39; said team member Adam Deller of the Swinburne University of Technology.
The team then analyzed the distance and other characteristics with the Gemini South telescope, together with the W.M. The Keck observatory and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory.
& # 39; The Gemini South data absolutely confirmed that the light disappeared from the galaxy about 4 billion years ago & # 39 ;, said Nicolas Tejos of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, who led Gemini's observations.
& # 39; When we reached a position for FRB 180924 that was good to 0.1 arc second, we knew it would tell us not only what object the host galaxy was, but also where it had occurred in the host galaxy & # 39 ;, said Deller.
& # 39; We discovered that the FRB was outside the Milky Way, in the & # 39; galactic suburbs & # 39 ;.
In a remarkable breakthrough, an Australian-led team with the Gemini South telescope in Chile said they had followed a single FRB to a galaxy about 3.6 billion light-years away. The FRB was spotted in September 2018 using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder radio telescope
The breakthrough can be a step toward finally understanding what FRB & # 39; s is causing in the first place, the researchers say.
It could also lead to more efficient ways of tracing their origins.
& # 39; Just like gamma rays two decades ago, or the more recent detection of gravitational wave events, we are on the eve of an exciting new era where we are about to learn where fast radio bursts are taking place & # 39 ;, said team member Stuart Ryder from Macquarie University, Australia.
& # 39; Ultimately, our goal is to use FRB & # 39; s as cosmological probes, in the same way that we use gamma ray bursts, quasars, and supernovas. & # 39; s
WHAT ARE FAST RADIO BURSTS AND WHY ARE WE THEM?
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are radio waves that appear temporarily and randomly, making them not only difficult to find, but also difficult to study.
The mystery stems from the fact that it is not known what such a short and sharp burst could produce.
This has led some to speculate that they can be anything from stars that clash to artificially created messages.
Scientists looking for fast radio bursts (FRBs), some of which believe they are signals from aliens, can take place every second. The blue dots in this artist's impression of the filament structure of galaxies are signals from FRB & # 39; s
The first FRB was spotted in 2001, or rather & # 39; heard & # 39; by radio telescopes, but was only discovered in 2007 when scientists analyzed data from the archives.
But it was so temporary and seemingly random that it took years for astronomers to agree that it was not a glitch in any of the telescope's instruments.
Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics point out that FRBs can be used to study the structure and evolution of the universe, regardless of whether their origins are fully understood.
A large population of distant FRBs could serve as probes of material over huge distances.
This intermediate material blurs the signal from the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the remaining radiation from the big bang.
A careful study of this intervening material should provide a better understanding of basic cosmic components, such as the relative amounts of ordinary matter, dark matter, and dark energy that affect how rapidly the universe expands.
FRB & # 39; s can also be used to find out what the & # 39; is missing & # 39; from hydrogen atoms that penetrated the early universe into free electrons and protons, when the temperature after the big bang had cooled.
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