Scientists were celebrating a groundbreaking astronomical discovery yesterday that they say could pave the way for mapping the outer reaches of the universe.
An Australian-led team of international astronomers have determined for the first time the precise source of a powerful, one-off burst of cosmic radio waves. They have pinpointed it to a massive galaxy billions of light years away, with properties that upend what scientists previously thought they knew about the formation of mysterious fast radio bursts (FRBs).
“This result is highly anticipated within the astronomy community,” Casey Law, an astronomer at UC Berkeley who was not involved in the study told AFP. The findings, published in the journal Science, are among the most significant since the discovery in 2007 of FRBs, which flash for only a micro-instant but can emit as much energy in a millisecond as the Sun does in 10,000 years. Exactly what creates these high-energy surges of long waves at the far end of the electromagnetic spectrum remains the subject of intense debate, though scientists now agree they originate in far away galaxies.