Mysterious fast radio bursts 'light up' night sky in major discovery

Astronomers Confirm Earth Is Being Bombarded with Ancient Invisible Energy from Another Galaxy

Astronomers Confirm Earth Is Being Bombarded with Ancient Invisible Energy from Another Galaxy

The discoveries include the closest and brightest bursts detected.

ASKAP is located at CSIRO's Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, and is a precursor for the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

A fast radio burst is a fierce spike of energy that comes from outside our galaxy and lasts for just milliseconds.

Australian researchers have detected the closest and brightest fast radio bursts from deep space ever detected, according to an announcement in the worldwide journal Nature.

Australian researchers on Thursday said they have detected a record number of radio waves from space, including the closest and fastest one that may help understand the matter between galaxies.

The mysterious bursts are believed to involve incredible amounts of energy - the equivalent of what the sun puts out in an 80-year period.

Jean-Pierre Macquart, from the Curtin University in Australia, said bursts travel for billions of years and occasionally pass through clouds of gas.

"Using the new technology of the Australia Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder, we've also proved that fast radio bursts are coming from the other side of the universe rather than from our own galactic neighborhood", said lead author Ryan Shannon from Swinburne University of Technology.

"Eventually, the burst reaches Earth with its spread of wavelengths arriving at the telescope at slightly different times, like swimmers at a finish line", Macquart said.

"Timing the arrival of the different wavelengths tells us how much material the burst has traveled through on its journey".

"We've found 20 fast radio bursts in a year, nearly doubling the number detected worldwide since they were discovered in 2007", said Ryan Shannon from Swinburne University of Technology.

Speaking of the technology involved, ASKAP engineer Dr Keith Bannister said this latest discovery was down to the telescope dish's field of view - 100 times larger than the full moon.

The next challenge for the researchers, whose findings were reported in scientific journal Nature, is to pinpoint the locations of bursts on the sky.

"We'll be able to localise the bursts to better than a thousandth of a degree", says Shannon. "That's about the width of a human hair seen 10 metres away, and good enough to tie each burst to a particular galaxy".

Scientists say the fast radio bursts happen frequently but it is extremely hard to catch one.