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Cosmic radio burst caught red-handed

19 Jan 2015, 22:38 UTC
Cosmic radio burst caught red-handed
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News this week that astronomers using our Parkes radio telescope have detected a short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source up to 5.5 billion light years from Earth is the latest chapter in a cosmic ‘whodunnit’ mystery. We have mounting evidence, a team of detectives, and a good pinch of suspense. All […]

CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope has detected a new ‘fast radio burst’. This is the first ‘live’ detection of one of these mysterious bursts. Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions.
News this week that astronomers using our Parkes radio telescope have detected a short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source up to 5.5 billion light years from Earth is the latest chapter in a cosmic ‘whodunnit’ mystery. We have mounting evidence, a team of detectives, and a good pinch of suspense. All we need now is to find the body.
The evidence
‘Fast radio bursts’ are short and bright: they last only milliseconds but give out an enormous amount of energy.
The first burst was discovered in 2007 by astronomers combing old Parkes data archives for unrelated objects. Five more detections were made from Parkes data before researchers using data collected with the Arecibo ...

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