Astronomers are stumped by a set of quick bursts of radio energy detected from outside the Milky Way Galaxy.
The Parkes Radio Telescope surveying the sky has detected the bursts, which last fewer than five milliseconds, reports Ars Technica.
There is no repeat of the events, and they have nothing accompanying them at optical X-ray wavelengths. But observing their properties shows they originate large distances from our galaxy and are the result of cataclysmic events, Ars Technica reports.
It is believed that thousands of the Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) may be visible from Earth daily, but astronomers need to know where to look.
Astronomers looking through the archives of the radiotelescope found four of the FRBs. The intensity of each varied widely.
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It is known that they originated outside our galaxy, because radiowaves interact with ionized interstellar gas in such as way that their spectrum is altered. The spectrum was altered so much that they had to have passed through a large amount of gas, though very little of that gas from inside the Milky Way.
"At cosmological distances, this indicates that they are more luminous than bursts from any known transient radio source," the authors of a report on the FRBs wrote.
The cataclysms causing them are not rare based on their frequency, but just what they are remains a mystery. They don't behave like any known possible source.
And it may take take a long time to find out what they are. It took decades to figure out what was likely causing gamma-ray bursts.
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