Detected radio bursts evidence of 'exotic phenomena'

Detected radio bursts evidence of ‘exotic phenomena’
Parkes radio telescope, which has been used to confirm a population of Fast Radio Bursts, is shown superimposed on an image showing the distribution of gas in our Galaxy. Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions

The detection of four short bursts of radio waves, possibly arising from explosions billions of light years away, could be powerful tools to study our Universe, according to research published in Science.

In 2006, a similar so called 'Lorimer burst' was detected with the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope and its authenticity was debated with widespread scepticism about its astrophysical origin.

Those doubts have been laid to rest with the recent discovery of four similar bursts, using the same radio telescope in research co-authored by Curtin University's Dr Ramesh Bhat.

"The only way to address such doubts about the Lorimer burst was to survey a large part of the sky, with new, more sensitive technology," Dr Bhat says.

An international team of researchers equipped the radio telescope with a digital recorder that can sample data at an extremely rapid rate, faster than one tenth of a millisecond.

It is then able to split the into more than 1000 fine segments. The previous recorder was four times slower, splitting the frequency into less than 100 segments.

"This means our survey is highly sensitive to short duration bursts from billions of away."

Four fast radio bursts (FRBs) were discovered, which last only a few , from four widely spaced directions in the sky.

"[This discovery] confirms there are exotic explosive phenomena in our Universe. The energy released from such explosions is detected as these radio bursts," Dr Bhat says.

The team's analysis suggests that these bursts likely originate from billions of light years away, the furthest being almost 11 billion light years away.

"They have to be incredibly energetic explosions for us to be able to detect them, given their inferred large distances," Dr Bhat says.

"We do not know what exactly caused these bursts, though they likely originate from exotic phenomena, such as when a super massive neutron star collapses into a black hole."

Science is unable to explain these FRBs within the current known framework of physical phenomena.

"We hope our results will stimulate theorists to think of new physics to explain our observations."

Even more remarkable is the conclusion that thousands of these bursts may be striking Earth every day.

Dr Bhat says these FRBs could be incredibly powerful tools.

"They carry valuable information on how much [normal] matter they encounter as they make their way to the Earth and could potentially help us answer questions about the birth and evolution of the Universe."

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Sep 27, 2013
"Students using astrophysical textbooks remain essentially ignorant of even the existence of plasma concepts, despite the fact that some of them have been known for half a century. The conclusion is that astrophysics is too important to be left in the hands of astrophysicists who have gotten their main knowledge from these textbooks. Earthbound and space telescope data must be treated by scientists who are familiar with laboratory and magnetospheric physics and circuit theory, and of course with modern plasma theory." Hannes Alfven

Because of ignorance, only exotic phenomena can explain these outbursts from the myopic POV of astrophysicists.

Sep 27, 2013
Oh yeah, astrophysicists have *never* thought about plasmas ever in their careers. They're so stupid. They're not internet smart like cantdrive; cantdrive read a book by some dude in the 50s that has been thoroughly disproven over the years. Physicists are so dumb. [/sarc, btw]

Sep 27, 2013
Re: "Oh yeah, astrophysicists have *never* thought about plasmas ever in their careers. They're so stupid."

Actually, the technical term for such misunderstandings in science is "multiple representations by multiple agents" -- which in layman's terms simply means that two disciplines of study exhibit differing conceptual representations for the same phenomena. This is relatively easy to see if a person is moderately familiar with the plasma contexts offered by both the Astrophysical Journal and IEEE's Transactions on Plasma Science: The Astrophysical Journal generally dissociates magnetic fields from electric current causes when the subject is interstellar cosmic plasmas, whereas IEEE is more laboratory-oriented in its analysis of plasmas -- which dictates that magnetic fields tend to go hand-in-hand with electric currents.

Perhaps certain critics have been rather blunt in their assessment, but the fact of the matter is right there for anybody who is willing to see it.

Sep 27, 2013
Part of the problem, of course, is that the public does not actually really understand what a plasma is. Another component to the misunderstanding is that astrophysicists generally don't read IEEE. And yet another important piece of this puzzle is that astrophysics students are generally not instructed on the fact that the highly idealized MHD equations they continue to use to represent collisionless plasmas were in a sense disowned by their creator -- Hannes Alfven -- in numerous papers and talks towards the later stages of his career, and EVEN IN THE NOBEL LECTURE FOR THE CREATION OF THOSE MHD MODELS.

The real question in this controversy is whether or not you believe that cosmic interstellar magnetic fields can possibly have an electric current cause. Astrophysicists seem to assume that it's just not possible, and they even go so far as to ridicule that notion. But, it seems to many of us that the PhD programs do not exactly encourage such questions to ever be asked.

Sep 27, 2013
you read a cute book and decided to change your whole world views, simply because it's more fun to be different. admit it cantdrive, teech & hannes, you're no different than those who take The Celestine Prophecy seriously. that is all.

Sep 27, 2013
Who has been on topic in this article? No one.

Not a single commenter has made any topical remarks about this article. You all should be ashamed of yourselves.

This article, if you bothered to have read it, is about a very interesting detection. A little bit of informed and educated speculation from the scientist.

It will be interesting if the conclusions hold up to scrutiny.

Sep 27, 2013
Reading and understanding books can be a great tool for education. It is overwhelmingly clear our standard models are seriously lacking. Adhering to a belief system because every one else does is foolish. Articles on radio bursts as evidence of exotic phenomena and science has no explanation make you scratch your head when you know Martinus Van Marum created the first plasma explosion in 1790. Though it took two hundred years to figure out what was going on our understanding of plasma pinches and how they generate radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum has come a long way. Brushing up on your understanding of what plasma is and the range it exists in would help inform you all. It definitely expanded my understanding of our world and instead of constantly being surprised by new data coming in from our equipment in space I am vindicated.

Oct 02, 2013
You do not need rapid rotation to produce radio bursts.

Oct 02, 2013
You do not need rapid rotation to produce radio bursts.

The energy levels are far too high for that sort of mechanism.

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