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Violent origins imprinted in cosmic radio bursts

Gli astronomi hanno registrato misteriose emissioni di alta energia nella banda delle onde radio la cui luminosità e distanza puntano ad una origine cosmologica risalente all’epoca in cui l’Universo aveva una età di circa 6-7 miliardi di anni.

The burst energetics indicate that they originate from an extreme astrophysical event involving relativistic objects such as neutron stars or black holes. Study lead by England’s University of Manchester researchers, said the findings pointed to some extreme events involving large amounts of mass or energy as the source of the radio bursts. Astonishingly, the findings, taken from a tiny fraction of the sky, also suggest that there should be one of these signals going off every 10 seconds. Max-Planck Institute Director, co-author and Manchester professor, Michael Kramer, explained: “The bursts last only a tenth of the blink of an eye. With current telescopes we need to be lucky to look at the right spot at the right time. But if we could view the sky with ‘radio eyes’ there would be flashes going off all over the sky every day”. The team, which included researchers from the UK, Germany, Italy, Australia and the US, used the CSIRO Parkes 64metre radio telescope in Australia to obtain their results. Author Professor Matthew Bailes, from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, thinks the origin of these explosive bursts may be from magnetic neutron stars, known as ‘magnetars’. He said: “Magnetars can give off more energy in a millisecond than our Sun does in 300,000 years and are a leading candidate for the burst”. The researchers say their results will also provide a way of finding out the properties of space between the Earth and where the bursts occurred. Ben Stappers, another author from Manchester’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “We are still not sure about what makes up the space between galaxies, so we will be able to use these radio bursts like probes in order to understand more about some of the missing matter in the Universe. We are now starting to use Parkes and other telescopes, like the Lovell Telescope of the University of Manchester, to look for these bursts in real time”.

University of Manchester: Cosmic radio bursts point to cataclysmic origins

Science: A Population of Fast Radio Bursts at Cosmological Distances

This narrated video describes the discovery of a new population of radio bursts that appear to come from cosmological distances. The bursts offer a new way to count the number of atoms in the Universe and have mysterious origins.

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black holes | magnetars | neutron stars

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