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Space Australia

Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected 259

astroengine writes "Astronomers were on a celestial fishing expedition for pulsing neutron stars and other radio bursts when they found something unexpected in archived sky sweeps conducted by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The powerful signal, which lasted for just milliseconds, could have been a fluke, but then the team found three more equally energetic transient flashes all far removed from the galactic plane and coming from different points in the sky. Astronomers are at a loss to explain what these flashes are — they could be a common astrophysical phenomenon that has only just been detected as our radio antennae have become sensitive enough, or they could be very rare and totally new phenomenon that, so far, defies explanation."
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Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected

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  • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 ) on Thursday July 04, 2013 @04:27PM (#44190193) Journal
    um, the probability of this being something is 1. Now the probability of this being something interesting...
  • Re:Four bursts? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 04, 2013 @09:46PM (#44191909)

    It's too late. We've detected all four events, so we're inside the expanding spherical wavefronts of all of them: the intersection has already happened. Because they were all detected so close together (less than a year apart), the intersection must have been very close; and since the last one was over a year ago (January 2012), any signal from the intersection point has already passed us by.

    The other problem is that single-dish radio telescopes don't give us a very precise idea of where the signal comes from. We just know that each of them came from somewhere in a patch of sky about the size of the moon. Ideally, what we'd like to do is to detect one of these signals with two telescopes at once. That would confirm that it's a real thing (rather than a bug in one of the telescopes); and the times of arrival at the two telescopes would tell us very precisely where the signal came from.

    (I am a radio astronomer, but I don't work on the type of transients described in the article.)

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