Astronomers detect most distant radio burst yet

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How much does the universe weigh?  Astronomers hope that fast radio bursts from distant galaxies can provide an answer.

How much does the universe weigh? Astronomers hope that fast radio bursts from distant galaxies may provide an answer.

Eight billion years ago, something happened in a distant galaxy that sent an incredibly powerful burst of radio waves across the universe.

It finally reached Earth on June 10 of last year and, although it lasted less than a thousandth of a second, a radio in Australia he managed to capture the signal.

This flash of the cosmos was a (FRB), a poorly understood phenomenon first discovered in 2007.

Astronomers revealed on Thursday that this particular FRB was more powerful and came from much further away than any previously recorded, having traveled eight billion light years from the time it appeared. He was less than half his current age.

The exact causes of FRBs have become one of the great mysteries of astronomy. Initially it was speculated that they could be transmitted from some type of extraterrestrial, particularly because some of the signals are repeated.

However, scientists believe that the main suspects are distant dead stars called magnetars, which are the most magnetic objects in the universe.

Ryan Shannon, an astrophysicist at Australia’s Swinburne University, told AFP it was “mind-blowing” that the ASKAP radio telescope in Western Australia had detected the radio burst last year.

‘Lucky’

“We were lucky to be looking at that little dot in the sky for that millisecond after the eight billion years the pulse had traveled to capture it,” said Shannon, co-author of a study describing the finding in the journal Science.

The FRB easily surpassed the previous record, which was around five billion. far away, he added.

The pulse was so powerful that, in less than a millisecond, it released as much energy as the Sun emits in 30 years.

Shannon said there could be hundreds of thousands of FRBs flickering in the sky every day.

But about a thousand have been detected so far, and scientists have only been able to determine where they came from only 50, which is crucial to understanding them.

To find out where the latest radio burst, dubbed FRB 20220610A, came from, researchers turned to the Very Large Telescope in Chile.

He discovered that the signal was originating from a particularly lumpy galaxy that could have been merging with one or two other galaxies, which in turn could have created the strange magnetar.

Shannon emphasized that this was just the team’s “best feeling.”

FRBs have been detected coming from unexpected places, even within our own Milky Way galaxy, so it is “still unknown” what causes them, he said.

In addition to trying to unlock the secrets of FRBs, scientists hope to use them as a tool to shed light on another of the universe’s mysteries.

Where is the problem?

Only five percent of the universe is made up of normal matter (which is what everything we can see is made of), while the rest is thought to be made up of poorly understood dark matter and dark energy.

But when If you count all the stars and galaxies in the universe, more than half of that five percent of normal matter is “missing,” Shannon said.

Scientists believe that this missing matter is distributed in thin filaments that connect It’s called the cosmic web, but it’s so diffuse that current telescopes can’t see it.

That is where Forward.

They are “imprinted with the signature of all the gas they travel through,” Shannon said.

Some FRB wavelengths slow down slightly as they travel through this matter, giving scientists a way to measure it.

This could allow them to calculate how much matter there is in the cosmic web and, therefore, the total weight of the universe.

For the record-breaking FRB, Shannon said the team had noticed signs of “additional materials” that the explosion had passed through on its journey through the universe.

But to use this information to get a proper measurement of the weight of the universe, hundreds more FRBs will probably need to be observed, he added.

With much more advanced radio telescopes expected to come online soon, astronomers expect that to happen relatively quickly.

Liam Connor, an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology who is not involved in the research, told AFP that the future Telescopes will find tens of thousands of FRBs, allowing scientists to weigh all the “through cosmic epochs.”

More information:
SD Ryder et al, A fast, luminous radio burst exploring the Universe at redshift 1, Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/ciencia.adf2678. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adf2678

© 2023 AFP

Citation: ‘Mind-blowing’: Astronomers detect most distant radio burst yet (2023, October 22) retrieved October 22, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-10-mind-blowing- astronomers-distant-radio.html

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