Researchers have been able to trace a single burst of cosmic radio waves to a galaxy 3.6 billion light-years away, CNN is reporting.
It is the first time a single burst of the radio waves has been traced to its point of origin.
The bursts last only a millisecond. Astronomers were able to locate the source of a repeating burst in 2017, but single bursts are much more difficult to pin down, CNN said.
Fast radio bursts are brief pulses of radio waves flaring with the power of about 500 million suns.
A radio telescope in Western Australia discovered this particular single radio burst and three of the largest telescopes in the world were able to image it.
The observations were published in the journal Science.
“This is the big breakthrough that the field has been waiting for since astronomers discovered fast radio bursts,” said Keith Bannister, lead study author and principal research engineer at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.
Bannister and his team were able to save data collected by the telescope in Western Australia and create a map showing the point of origin.
“We identified the burst’s home galaxy and even its exact starting point, 13,000 light-years out from the galaxy’s center in the galactic suburbs,” said Adam Deller, an author of the study and an associate professor at the Swinburne University of Technology’s Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.
CNN noted researchers are still trying to determine why the radio bursts happen.
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