A team of astronomers discover a split-second burst of radio waves that appear to come from the depths of outer space. via Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy:
The unusual pulse was detected on November 02, 2012, at the Arecibo Observatory with the world’s largest and most sensitive single-dish radio telescope, with a radio-mirror spanning 305 metres and covering about 20 acres.
While fast radio bursts last just a few thousandths of a second and have rarely been detected, the new result confirms previous estimates that these strange cosmic bursts occur roughly 10,000 times a day over the whole sky. This astonishingly large number is inferred by calculating how much sky was observed, and for how long, in order to make the few detections that have so far been reported.
The bursts appear to be coming from beyond the Milky Way galaxy based on measurements of an effect known as plasma dispersion. Pulses that travel through the cosmos are distinguished from man-made interference by the effect of interstellar electrons, which cause radio waves to travel more slowly at lower radio frequencies. The burst detected by the Arecibo telescope has three times the maximum dispersion measurement that would be expected from a source within the galaxy, the scientists report.
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