Astronomers Track Cosmic Radio Waves to a Distant Galaxy

Using powerful telescopes, astronomers have for the first time found the origins of single flash fast radio waves. The new findings shed light on where these waves come from and what creates them in the first place. They also reveal the differences between single flash radio waves and repeated bursts of cosmic radio waves.


Tracking Cosmic Radio Waves

The trigger of these blasts from other galaxies has puzzled scientists for a long time. New occurrences of these fast radio bursts (FRBs) have been recently observed. It is likely that FRBs originate from two different sources.

Astronomers have traced the source of a single flash or one-off FRB to its home galaxy. This is only the second FRB to be traced. The first was FRB 121102, which is a repeating FRB. Its home galaxy is a faraway dwarf galaxy located around 2.5 billion light-years from Earth. The home of the new single flash FRB is a different galaxy, which is believed to be much greater in size. These recent findings are reported in a June edition of Science.

The first FRB was discovered back in 2007. One of the people on that team was West Virginia University astrophysicist, Duncan Lorimer. Commenting on the latest findings of which he was not involved, he cautions making final conclusions from just two FRB observations. He does point out, however, that based on the findings, once-off FRBs and repeating FRBs seem to be quite different in nature.

A collection of telescopes was used to zero in on the location of the new FRB with great accuracy. This is known as the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder and is made up of 36 radio dishes spread six kilometers apart and positioned in Australian. The new FRB known as Tony or FRB 180924 comes from a galaxy about 4 billion light-years away.

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