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Powerful radio signals “most perplexing” astronomy mystery


From Elizabeth Gibney at Nature:

No astronomer had ever seen anything like it. No theorist had predicted it. Yet there it was — a 5-millisecond radio burst that had arrived on 24 August 2001 from an unknown source seemingly billions of light years away.

“It was so bright, we couldn’t just dismiss it,” says Duncan Lorimer, who co-discovered the signal1 in 2007 while working on archived data from the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia. “But we didn’t really know what to do with it.”

Such fleeting radio bursts usually came from pulsars — furiously rotating neutron stars whose radiation sweeps by Earth with the regularity of a lighthouse beam. But Lorimer, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University in Morgantown, saw this object erupt only once, and with more power than any known pulsar.More.

See also: Dark matter skeptics wanted?

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