Space & Astronomy
Astronomers detect 19 more fast radio bursts
By T.K. Randall
October 13, 2018 · 3 comments
The Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 CSIRO
The previously undiscovered deep space flashes could help scientists solve this ongoing astronomical enigma.
It's a phenomenon that has managed to defy explanation for years - powerful bursts of radio waves originating from far beyond our own galaxy that, despite lasting mere milliseconds, generate as much energy as the Sun does in an entire day.
Until recently, only three dozen or so of these mysterious bursts had ever been found, but now thanks to a new study led by Ryan Shannon of the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, that total has increased significantly.
Since the beginning of last year, Shannon and colleagues had been using the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) to scour the skies for signs of these elusive signals.
"The telescope has a whopping field of view of 30 square degrees, 100 times larger than the full moon," said study co-author Keith Bannister.
"And, by using the telescope's dish antennas in a radical way, with each pointing at a different part of the sky, we observed 240 square degrees all at once - about 1,000 times the area of the full moon."
Their success spells good news for scientists attempting to determine exactly what these mysterious radio bursts actually are - the more examples we have, the more we can learn about them.
For now, however, all we know is that they seem to be originating from the other side of the universe.
The nearest is a whopping 425 million light years away from Earth.
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