Space is full of mystery. Isn’t it? There are always some mysterious and powerful events take place and we never know the reason what causes them. In a major achievement, astronomers have just traced another weird signal called fast radio bursts (FRBs).
It is to be noted that this was the second time when a fast radio burst has been traced to its home galaxy across the universe. It is worth mentioning here that FRBs are powerful and mysterious millisecond bursts of radio waves. However, astronomers are yet to determine what causes them.
Discovered in 2007, the first detection of a single radio burst's origin was announced last week. Previously, only a fast repeating radio burst had been traced to its home galaxy. A repeating burst is easier to trace than a single, quick radio signal.
According to a report in journal Nature, researchers at the California Institute of Technology's Owens Valley Radio Observatory discovered the point of origin for FRB 190523. Its galaxy, similar in size to our own Milky Way galaxy, is 7.9 billion light-years away.
Importantly, the observatory was used to make observations over the course of 54 days before and after the event.
"Finding the locations of the one-off FRBs is challenging because it requires a radio telescope that can both discover these extremely short events and locate them with the resolving power of a mile-wide radio dish," said Vikram Ravi in a statement, study author and assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech.
“The observatory was designed to capture such intense, quick events like fast radio bursts. At OVRO, we built a new array of ten 4.5-meter dishes that collectively act like a mile-wide dish to cover an area on the sky the size of 150 full moons. To do this, a powerful digital system ingests and processes an amount of data equivalent to a DVD every second," he said.
"This finding tells us that every galaxy, even a run-of-the-mill galaxy like our Milky Way, can generate an FRB," Ravi said.
"Most matter in the universe is diffuse, hot, and outside of galaxies," Ravi said. "This state of matter, although not 'dark,' is difficult to observe directly. However, its effects are clearly imprinted on every FRB, including the one we detected at such a great distance," he concluded.
"The DSA is expected to discover and localize more than 100 FRBs per year," said Richard Barvainis, program director at the National Science Foundation for the Mid-Scale Innovations Program.
"Astronomers have been chasing FRBs for a decade now, and we're finally drawing a bead on them with new instruments. Now we have a chance of figuring out just what these exotic objects might be," he added.
Meanwhile, the mystery behind the cause of fast radio bursts is to be known yet.