8 billion years ago something happened in a galaxy far away. And we just detected it in a radio burst
The latest fast radio burst (FRB) could be the most distant detected to date. So distant that the echo of this event has taken 8,000 million years to reach us. Not only is it the most distant gust detected to date, those who have studied it also believe it is the most powerful.
Three decades in one millisecond. A team of researchers has announced the detection of one of the most unique FRBs detected to date. It is because of the distance (spatial and temporal) at which it occurred from us, and because of its enormous magnitude.
The experts who have studied it explain that in just one millisecond, the event that generated the burst released the equivalent of three decades of solar energy.
Its power is possibly its most striking feature. The event that caused this burst, explain the researchers who have studied it in detail, released as much energy in just one millisecond as our Sun emanates in 30 years.
Redshift 1. According to the team’s calculations, the event occurred 8,000 million years ago, which is the time it took for radio waves to reach us. To calculate this distance, astronomers use the phenomenon known as redshift .
This phenomenon affects waves that travel through space. Since it expands slowly but constantly, the waves that pass through it also experience this stretching, so they reach us with a greater length than they had at their origin.
This helps astronomers calculate the distance they have traveled: the greater the stretch, the greater the distance.
And what was the origin? For now we don’t know exactly what caused this burst. FRBs are among the most mysterious phenomena in the universe. Not two decades have passed since we began to detect them and the diversity of their characteristics makes their analysis difficult.
FRB 20220610A, which is the name given to this event, was detected last year through the radio telescopes of the ASKAP network, located in Australia. The team of researchers carried out monitoring using different telescopes in other places around the world. This is how they managed to locate the area from which this FRB emanated.
Until now, detected FRBs have come from locations within one galaxy or another. However, this was not the case for FRB 20220610A. The team not only discovered its uniquely remote location, but that it came from a group of galaxies in the process of merging. Very active galaxies in the process of forming new stars. The details of the analysis of this burst have been recently published in an article in the journal Science .
Open doors. The study’s authors believe that the scale of this burst may help us study it in more detail, but it may not be the most important legacy of this latest discovery. The authors pointed out that the discovery of this FRB makes the team think that this type of phenomenon is more common in the cosmos than we thought.
If this is the case, in the future we could use these events to study other characteristics of the universe that surrounds us. For example, they explain the structure of the cosmos and the matter existing in intergalactic space.
Macquart’s relationship. This idea was postulated by the physicist Jean Pierre Macquart, who gives its name to the so-called Macquart relation . This postulates that the greater the distance traveled by the FRB, the greater the amount of gas located in this intergalactic space that will be “revealed” by the burst.
“[Macquart] showed that the farther away the radio burst is, the more diffuse gas it reveals between galaxies,” Stuart Ryder, a member of the team that studied this event, explained in a press release . “Some recent [FRBs] appear to have broken this relationship. “Our measurements confirm that the Macquart relation holds beyond half of the known universe.”
FRBs remain mysterious phenomena. But more and more, we realize that they are frequent events. This is good news since it is foreseeable that it will be through observation that we will be able to discover its origin (or origins). It will also be good news if thanks to this we are able to answer questions not strictly related to them, such as how much matter there really is where our telescopes cannot “see.”