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Parkes radio telescope detects mysterious flashes from distant universe

Washington, Fri, 05 Jul 2013 ANI

Washington, July 5 (ANI): CSIRO's 64-m (210-ft) Parkes radio telescope in eastern Australia has detected mysterious "flashes" of radio energy from the distant universe that may open up a whole new area of astrophysics.

"Staggeringly, we estimate there could be one of these flashes going off every ten seconds somewhere in the sky," research team member Dr. Simon Johnston, Head of Astrophysics at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, said.

Four flashes were detected, each from a different direction and each lasting for only a millisecond (a thousandth of a second).

The characteristics of the radio signal-how it is 'smeared out' in frequency from travelling through space-indicate that the flashes came from up to 11 billion light-years away.

No gamma rays or X-rays were detected in association with the flashes, and the astronomers have ruled out the flashes being from phenomena such as gamma-ray bursts, the merger of two neutron stars, merging black holes, or evaporating black holes.

"A single burst of radio emission of unknown origin was detected outside our galaxy about six years ago but no one was certain what it was or even if it was real," lead author Dan Thornton, a PhD student with the University of Manchester and CSIRO, said.

"So we have spent the last four years searching for more of these explosive, short-duration radio bursts," he said.

The findings are published in the journal Science. (ANI)

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