By: Krishna R
Since 2007, astronomers have been receiving mysterious signals from the depths of space. The sources of these signals have perplexed scientists for a very long time. Astonishingly, astronomers have been able to trace the source of one such signal. #finally.
Astronomers have been searching for signals from space for a long time – unfortunately with little success. However, in 2007, astronomers began to receive clear signals that lasted fractions of seconds, and then went away. These signals were termed ‘fast radio bursts’ – referred to as FRBs in the rest of this article.
In a landmark finding, a group of researchers were able to trace the source of one of these signals. Their findings were published on the 27th of June in an AAAS Science Journal. This is the first time astronomers were able to trace the source of an FRB.
Scientists have been able to trace the source of an FRB.
So what is it that causes these FRBs?
One of the main theories about the cause of FRBs is that the bursts are caused by magnetars (magnetic neutron stars). However, the exact reason for these FRBs is unknown.
How were they able to trace the source of a FRB?
Astronomers in Australia were able to focus the Australian Square Kilometer Pathfinder Array (an array of 36 radio dishes in Australia) on looking for FRBs. Then, when an FRB hit the radio dishes, they were able to use delays in the burst’s arrival to different dishes in order to trace the location. They used further sightings from telescopes in Hawaii and Chile to confirm their findings.
The astronomers were able to pinpoint the source of the burst to a galaxy approximately 3.6 billion light years – specifically on the edge of that galaxy.
If astronomers are able to trace the sources of more such FRBs, it will allow researchers to find out the true reason of the FRBs, and patterns within them. Until then, all we can do is wait for the next big breakthrough!
Drake, N. (2019, June 28). Bizarre radio burst traced back to its origin in deep space. Retrieved July 5, 2019,
Starr, M. (2019, June 27). Astronomers Have Caught And Traced a Single, Mysterious Space Signal. Retrieved
July 5, 2019, from https://www.sciencealert.com/astronomers-just-traced-a-single-mysterious-
Image from TimelyBuzz