Astronomers have identified the oldest and most distant fast radio burst (FRB) to date, around eight billion years old, supporting theories about FRBs and their ability to reveal “lost” matter between galaxies. This discovery promises more insights into the structure of the universe with future telescopic developments.
In a paper published in Sciences, An international team led by Dr Stuart Ryder from Macquarie University and Swinburne University of Technology Associate Professor Ryan Shannon, report on their discovery of the oldest and most distant fast radio burst found to date, approximately eight billion years old.
This discovery breaks the team’s previous record by 50 percent. He asserts that fast radio bursts (FRBs) can be used to measure “missing” matter between galaxies.
The source of the explosion turned out to be a cluster of two or three galaxies merging, supporting current theories about the cause of fast radio bursts. The team also showed that it goes back eight billion years as far back as we can expect to see and pinpoint with current telescopes.
Detection of the explosion and its importance
On June 10, 2022,
“gt-data-translation-attributes=”[“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”]”>CSIROWajarri Yamaji Country Company’s ASKAP radio telescope was used to detect a fast radio burst, created in a cosmic event that released, in milliseconds, the equivalent of our Sun’s total emission over 30 years.
“Using the ASKAP array of dishes, we were able to pinpoint the source of the explosion,” says Dr. Ryder, first author of the paper. “Then we used the European Southern Observatory (
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“gt-data-translation-attributes=”[“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”]”>Very large telescope (VLT) in Chile to search for the source galaxy, finding that it is older and more distant than any other FRB found so far, and is likely within a small group of merging galaxies.
This explosion was named FRB 20220610A, and it reconfirmed the concept of the weight of the universe using data from FRBs. This was first proven by the late Australian astronomer Jean-Pierre “JP” Macquart in a research paper published in nature In 2020.
“GB showed that the farther away the fast radio burst is, the more gas spreads between galaxies,” says Dr. Ryder. “This is now known as the Macquart relationship. Some recent fast radio bursts appear to have broken this relationship. Our measurements confirm that the Macquart relationship applies far beyond half the known universe.”
Fast radio bursts and the structure of the universe
About 50 FRBs have been identified to date, about half of them using ASKAP. The authors suggest that we should be able to spot thousands of them across the sky, and at greater distances.
“Although we still don’t know what causes these massive bursts of energy, the paper confirms that fast radio bursts are common events in the universe and that we will be able to use them to detect intergalactic matter, and better understand the structure of galaxies.” universe,” says Associate Professor Shannon.
We will soon have the tools to do this. ASKAP is currently the best radio telescope for detecting and locating FRBs. The SKA international telescopes now under construction in Western Australia and South Africa will be better at allowing astronomers to locate older, more distant fast radio bursts. The roughly 40-meter-long mirror of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, currently under construction in Chile’s high, dry desert, will then be needed to study the source galaxies.
Collaborative effort and future prospects
The project was a global effort involving researchers from ASTRON (Netherlands), Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso (Chile), Kavli Institute for Cosmic Physics and Mathematics (Japan), SKA Observatory (UK),
“gt-data-translation-attributes=”[“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”]”>Northwestern UniversityUniversity of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Santa Cruz (USA).
The Australian participants were Macquarie University, Swinburne University of Technology, CSIRO,
“gt-data-translation-attributes=”[“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”]”>Repeat/ Curtin University, ASTRO 3D, and
“gt-data-translation-attributes=”[“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”]”>University of Sydney.
Current methods for estimating the mass of the universe give conflicting answers and challenge the standard model of cosmology.
“If we count the amount of natural matter in the universe – the atoms of which we are all composed – more than half of what should be there today is missing,” says Associate Professor Shannon.
“We think the missing matter is hiding in intergalactic space, but it may be so hot and diffuse that it is impossible to see using normal techniques.
“Fast radio bursts sense this ionized matter. Even in space that is almost completely empty, they can ‘see’ all the electrons, and this allows us to measure the amount of stuff that exists between galaxies.
Telescope infrastructure and future endeavors
CSIRO’s ASKAP radio telescope is located at Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the CSIRO Murchison radio astronomy observatory in Western Australia, about 800 kilometers north of Perth.
Currently, there are 16 partner countries in the SKA Observatory, which is building two radio telescopes. SKA-Low (Low Frequency Telescope) – in the same location as ASKAP – will include 131,072 two-meter antennas, while SKA-Mid (Medium Frequency Telescope) in South Africa will include 197 dishes.
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) has four eight-meter mirrors and is operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), located on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Australia is a strategic partner of the European Southern Observatory, giving Australian astronomers access to the VLT and the opportunity to contribute new techniques to it.
Australian astronomers also hope to have access to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope when it becomes operational later this decade. The ELT will be able to deliver images that are 15 times sharper than those of
“gt-data-translation-attributes=”[“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”]”> Hubble Space Telescope.
For more information about this research, see Astronomers detect a fast radio burst 8 billion light-years away.
Reference: “Fast, luminous radio burst probes the universe at redshift 1” by S. D. Ryder, K. W. Bannister, S. Bhandari, AT Deller, RD Ekers, M. Glowacki, A. C. Gordon, K. Gourdji, C. W. James, CD Kilpatrick, W. Lu , L. Marnoch, V. A. Moss, J. Sciences.
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