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article imageStrange radio waves emanating from space

By Tim Sandle     Dec 1, 2016 in Science
Astrophysicists have detected gamma rays that are associated with one of mysterious intergalactic fast radio bursts. Such mysterious flashes of radio waves from deep space continue to be detected.
The unexplained radio signals (or ‘radio bursts’) appear to be accompanied by gamma rays, according to new research. These take the form of high-energy photons, and the inference from this is the radio bursts are up to one billion times more energy packed than previous studies have suggested. The gamma association was detected by the Swift observatory, which is located on a NASA satellite launched in 2004.
The implications ebbing out from the gamma ray association is that radio blasts are unlikely to come from pulsars, which runs against the prevailing theory that pulsars are the source of radio signals. A pulsar (short for pulsating radio star) is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation.
An alternative explanation is that the radio blasts originate from a collision between very dense objects like merging black holes or neutron stars. The gamma rays could signal some-kind of ‘cosmic smash-up.’ At present no concrete theory matches the collected data.
The research has been published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters (“Discovery of a transient gamma-ray counterpart to FRB 131104.”)
Following on from this, Science News reports about the record for brightest ever radio blast being recorded. The blast was sufficiently bright as to reveal hitherto unknown details about the magnetic field between galaxies. The first such blast was detected in 2007. To date, 18 different bursts have been recorded.
Radio bursts originate from remote galaxies located billions of light-years away. Most last for only a few milliseconds and all, expect one, has not been repeated. The frequencies of each burst are delayed by different amounts of time depending on the wavelength.
The new, super-bright radio burst has been reported to the journal Science. The research is titled “The magnetic field and turbulence of the cosmic web measured using a brilliant fast radio burst.”
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