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Radio signal traveled 8 billion years to reach Earth – astronomers

by Deanna Macaranas

ASTRONOMERS have detected a mysterious blast of radio waves that have taken 8 billion years to reach Earth.  

FRB, also known as Fast Radio Burst, is a pulse of radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation. The first FRB was discovered in 2007, and since then, hundreds of cosmic flashes have been detected coming from distant points across the universe. 

Researchers stated that the burst, named FRB 20220610A, despite happening less than a millisecond, had unleashed the amount of energy our sun emits in three decades, according to the study published on October 19 in the journal Science. 

The radio signal was detected using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, a radio telescope located in Western Australia.

The location was found by the European Southern Observatory’s Large Telescope in Chile. 

Scientists believe that the rapid radio bursts may be a unique method that can be used to “weigh” the universe by measuring the matter between galaxies that remains unaccounted for. 

Ryan Shannon, the study co-author and professor at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, said that the radio waves in FRBs are similar to those used in microwave ovens. 

“The amount of energy in this FRB is the equivalent of microwaving a bowl of popcorn twice the size of the sun.”  

“If we count up the amount of normal matter in the universe—the atoms that we are all made of—we find that more than half of what should be there today is missing,” Shannon stated.

“We think that the missing matter is hiding in the space between galaxies, but it may just be so hot and diffuse that it’s impossible to see using normal techniques,’’ he added.   

Nearly 50 fast radio bursts have been traced back to their origin points, and half of them were found through the use of ASKAP. 

Scientists hope that future radio telescopes under construction in South Africa and Australia will enable the detection of thousands more fast radio waves at greater distances.

Shannon stated that the cause of the massive burst of energy was still unknown; however, the paper confirms that fast radio bursts are common events in the cosmos. 

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