Astronomers have discovered an eight billion-year-old radio signal.
The mysterious “fast radio burst” — identified as FRB 20220610A — lasted only a millisecond, but released the amount of energy our sun emits in three decades, according to the journal Science.
An FRB is a pulse of radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation. The first was discovered in 2007 and hundreds of these cosmic flashes have been detected since.
Many of these bursts last mere microseconds before disappearing, making it hard to determine where they come from.
However, scientists were able to “precisely” determine where FRB 20220610A came from, study coauthor Dr. Stuart Ryder, an astronomer at Macquarie University in Australia, said in a statement.
A theory among scientists is that these bursts are a result of an explosion of stars.
The FRB was initially detected using the Australian SKA Pathfinder, a radio telescope in the state of Western Australia.
Astronomers then used a large telescope in Chile to “search for the source galaxy” and found it to be older and farther than any other FRB located before.
Scientists believe FRBs can be used to “weigh” the universe by measuring matter between galaxies that is unaccounted for, according to CNN.
“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,” coauthor Ryan Shannon said.
“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.”
Shannon said FRBs “sense” ionized material and can “see” electrons, which allows scientists to “measure how much stuff is between the galaxies.”
Nearly 50 FRBs have been traced back to their origin points, according to CNN.
“The fact that FRBs are so common is also amazing,” Shannon said.
“It shows how promising the field can be.”
With Post Wires
Daisy Hips is a science communicator who brings the wonders of the natural world to readers. Her articles explore breakthroughs in various scientific disciplines, from space exploration to environmental conservation. Daisy is also an advocate for science education and enjoys stargazing in her spare time.