Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cosmic radio bursts point to cataclysmic origins

Date:
July 5, 2013
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
Mysterious bursts of radio waves originating from billions of light years away have left the scientists who detected them speculating about their origins. The burst energetics indicate that they originate from an extreme astrophysical event involving relativistic objects such as neutron stars or black holes.

CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope, which has been used to confirm a population of Fast Radio Bursts, is shown superimposed on an image showing the distribution of gas in our Galaxy. An artist's impression of a single fast radio burst is shown located well away from the Galactic plane emission. Fast radio bursts are a new population of radio source located at cosmological distances.
Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions

Mysterious bursts of radio waves originating from billions of light years away have left the scientists who detected them speculating about their origins.

The international research team, writing in the journal Science, rule out terrestrial sources for the four fast radio bursts and say their brightness and distance suggest they come from cosmological distances when the Universe was just half its current age.

The burst energetics indicate that they originate from an extreme astrophysical event involving relativistic objects such as neutron stars or black holes.

Study lead Dan Thornton, a PhD student at England's University of Manchester and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said the findings pointed to some extreme events involving large amounts of mass or energy as the source of the radio bursts.

He said: "A single burst of radio emission of unknown origin was detected outside our Galaxy about six years ago but no one was certain what it was or even if it was real, so we have spent the last four years searching for more of these explosive, short-duration radio bursts. This paper describes four more bursts, removing any doubt that they are real. The radio bursts last for just a few milliseconds and the furthest one that we detected was 11 billion light years away."

Astonishingly, the findings -- taken from a tiny fraction of the sky -- also suggest that there should be one of these signals going off every 10 seconds. Max-Planck Institute Director and Manchester professor, Michael Kramer, explained: "The bursts last only a tenth of the blink of an eye. With current telescopes we need to be lucky to look at the right spot at the right time. But if we could view the sky with 'radio eyes' there would be flashes going off all over the sky every day."

The team, which included researchers from the UK, Germany, Italy, Australia and the US, used the CSIRO Parkes 64metre radio telescope in Australia to obtain their results.

Co-author Professor Matthew Bailes, from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, thinks the origin of these explosive bursts may be from magnetic neutron stars, known as 'magnetars'. He said: "Magnetars can give off more energy in a millisecond than our Sun does in 300,000 years and are a leading candidate for the burst."

The researchers say their results will also provide a way of finding out the properties of space between Earth and where the bursts occurred. Author Dr Ben Stappers, from Manchester's School of Physics and Astronomy, said: "We are still not sure about what makes up the space between galaxies, so we will be able to use these radio bursts like probes in order to understand more about some of the missing matter in the Universe. We are now starting to use Parkes and other telescopes, like the Lovell Telescope of the University of Manchester, to look for these bursts in real time."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Manchester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. Thornton, B. Stappers, M. Bailes, B. Barsdell, S. Bates, N. D. R. Bhat, M. Burgay, S. Burke-Spolaor, D. J. Champion, P. Coster, N. D'Amico, A. Jameson, S. Johnston, M. Keith, M. Kramer, L. Levin, S. Milia, C. Ng, A. Possenti, W. van Straten. A Population of Fast Radio Bursts at Cosmological Distances. Science, 2013; 341 (6141): 53 DOI: 10.1126/science.1236789

Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Cosmic radio bursts point to cataclysmic origins." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705102031.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2013, July 5). Cosmic radio bursts point to cataclysmic origins. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705102031.htm
University of Manchester. "Cosmic radio bursts point to cataclysmic origins." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705102031.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship

AP (July 30, 2014) Arianespace launched a rocket Tuesday from French Guiana carrying a robotic cargo ship to deliver provisions to the International Space Station. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA (July 25, 2014) NASA EDGE webcasts live from Vandenberg AFB for the launch of the Oribiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO) launch. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins