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Australian researchers using a CSIRO radio telescope in Western Australia have nearly doubled the known number of 'fast radio bursts'— powerful flashes of radio waves from deep space.
The team's discoveries include the closest and brightest fast radio bursts ever detected.
Findings - Today - Nature
Their findings were reported today in the journal Nature.
Fast radio bursts come from all over the sky and last for just milliseconds.
Scientists - Energy—equivalent - Amount - Sun - Years
Scientists don't know what causes them but it must involve incredible energy—equivalent to the amount released by the Sun in 80 years.
"We've found 20 fast radio bursts in a year, almost doubling the number detected worldwide since they were discovered in 2007," said lead author Dr. Ryan Shannon, from Swinburne University of Technology and the OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence.
Technology - Australia - Square - Kilometre - Array
"Using the new technology of the Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), we've also proved that fast radio bursts are coming from the other side of the Universe rather than from our own galactic neighbourhood."
Co-author Dr. Jean-Pierre Macquart, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said bursts travel for billions of years and occasionally pass through clouds of gas.
Time - Wavelengths - Burst - Amounts
"Each time this happens, the different wavelengths that make up a burst are slowed by different amounts," he said.
"Eventually, the burst reaches Earth with its spread of wavelengths arriving at the telescope at slightly different times, like swimmers at a finish line.
Arrival - Wavelengths - Tells - Material - Burst
"Timing the arrival of the different wavelengths tells us how much material the burst has travelled through on its journey.
"And because we've shown that fast radio bursts come from far away, we can use them to detect all the missing...
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