BERLIN – A team of astronomers has detected the most distant fast radio burst (FRB) to date, confirming that distant bursts of cosmic radio waves last less than a millisecond and can be used to measure the “missing” matter between these events. Galaxies.
The source of the eruption was detected by the Very Long Telescope (VLT) located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Garching, Germany announced this Thursday.
The burst in question, one of the most powerful and most observed—released in one second the energy our Sun emits in 30 years—came from a galaxy whose light is 8,000 million years away. to earth.
“We found that it is older and more distant than any other FRB source discovered so far, and that it may be a cluster of small galaxies merging,” co-author astronomer Stuart Ryder said of the burst’s origins. study
According to ESO, the detection of the FRB in question confirms that it can be used to measure the “missing” matter and provide a new way of “weighing” the universe, as current models for estimating its passage provide conflicting answers.
“Calculating the amount of normal matter in the universe (its atoms) is missing more than half of what should be there today,” explained Ryan Shannon, co-director of the study.
Shannon added that the missing material is thought to be in intergalactic space, but it may be too hot and diffuse to be detected using normal techniques.
However, FRBs “detect that ionized matter” and even in almost completely empty space they can “see” all the electrons, making it possible to measure intergalactic matter, Shannon said.
Although the cause of these bursts of energy is still unknown, the study confirms that they are common events in the cosmos and can be used to “better understand the structure of the universe.”
ESO, for its part, emphasized that radio telescopes currently being built are capable of detecting even older and more distant eruptions, including the largest telescope located in the Atacama, which is one of the few capable of studying galaxies. From that they come.