Radio Bursts Detected From Outer Space: Where Did First Light Waves From Beyond Our Galaxy Come From? [VIDEO]
Radio bursts detected from deep in outer space came from billions of light years beyond our galaxy. Astronomers from around the world, working at the Parkes Observatory in Australia, recorded the first light waves ever detected from outside the Milky Way. And the radio bursts detected by the international team of astronomers were anything but weak blips on the radar; each light wave released about the same amount of energy as the sun emits in 300,000 years.
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The astronomers' discovery of the radio bursts detected in Australia was published in this week's issue of Science.
Discovery News reports that the powerful signals, four of them in total, lasted for mere milliseconds each. Whatever their origin, the radio bursts detected in Australia were single events that occurred between February 2011 and January 2012, meaning that scientists won't be able to glean any more information about them at this time.
"They have come such a long way that by the time they reach the Earth, the Parkes telescope would have to operate for 1 million years to collect enough to have the equivalent energy of a flying mosquito," astronomer Dan Thornton, with the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, told Discovery News.
Our sky is full of flares and bursts of varying natures. For instance, gamma-ray bursts are thought to occur when stars collapse into black holes. They are routinely detected by a network of telescopes on the ground and in space, including NASA's Swift and Fermi. When one telescope in the network detects a burst, it can notify others to quickly slew to the target for coordinated observations.
The Parkes Observatory is a radio telescope completed in 1961. Located in New South Wales, Australia, the telescope consists of a 209-foot-wide movable dish. The Parkes telescope was used in 1969 to receive live, televised footage of the famed Apollo 11 moon landing, the first time humans ever stepped foot on the Moon.
In 2007, another radio burst caught astronomers' attention. The single, sudden burst of radio waves became known as the "Lorimer" burst and was, according to one astrophysicist, "completely unprecedented."
The exact origin of the radio bursts detected from outside the Milky Way are unknown. Astronomers believe the pulses of light waves are from some kind of explosive cosmic event, like the collision of neutron stars or a supernova, deep in outer space.
Here's a video explaining more about the radio bursts detected in Australia:
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