A mysterious radio signal was detected by astronomers using the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales Australia.
Astronomers have for the first time seen a ‘fast radio burst’ – a short, sharp flash of radio waves from an unknown source. What may be causing this burst is unknown but the radio emission from this fast radio burst was more than 20 per cent circularly polarized, which hints that there are strong magnetic fields near the source.
According to the Telegraph, scientists have been unable to determine the origin of these strange signals. Possibilities range from evaporating black holes to alien communication.
Since 2007 six Radio Bursts have been discovered in the data from the Parkes Radio Telescope and one burst was discovered in the data from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, but until recently, one of these short flashes of radio waves had not been observed in real-time.
Ms. Petroff told to the Dailymail that after she spotted the ‘live’ burst on May 14, 2014, her international team in Australie poised to make rapid follow-up observations, at wavelengths from radio to X-rays. After Parkes saw the burst go off the team swung into action on twelve telescopes around the world – in Australia, California, the Canary Islands, Chile, Germany, Hawai’i, India, and in space.
As no optical, infrared, ultraviolet or X-ray counterpart showed up, that in itself rules out some possible candidates, such as long gamma-ray bursts and nearby supernovae,’ said team member Dr Mansi Kasliwal of the Carnegie Institution in Pasadena, California. The team also concludes that this radio burst originated up to 5.5 billion light years away and discovered weeks or months or even more than a decade after it happened.’
Although astronomers learned more about this strange Fast Radio Burst phenomenon by eliminating some possible sources, the mystery remains.
The research related to this real-time detection of a Fast Radio Burst was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on January 19.