Monday, July 08, 2013



News release: 2013-216                                                                    July 8, 2013

Radio Bursts Discovered From Beyond our Galaxy

                 Bursts Discovered From Beyond our Galaxy

The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:

Astronomers, including a team member from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have detected the first population of radio bursts known to originate from galaxies beyond our own Milky Way. The sources of the light bursts are unknown, but cataclysmic events, such as merging or exploding stars, are likely the triggers.

A radio burst is a quick surge of light from a point on the sky, made up of longer wavelengths in the radio portion of the light spectrum. A single radio burst was detected about six years ago, but researchers were unclear about whether it came from within or beyond our galaxy.

The new radio-burst detections -- four in total -- are from billions of light-years away, erasing any doubt that the phenomenon is real. The discovery, described in the July 4 issue of the journal Science, comes from an international team that used the Parkes Observatory in Australia.

"Short radio bursts are really tricky to identify," explained Sarah Burke Spolaor of JPL. "Our team had to search 11 months of data covering a large sky area to find them."

Spolaor developed the software used to seek single pulses in the radio data and pick out genuine signals from local interference sources -- such as cell phones, spark plugs and aircraft. This amounted to an enormous and complex computational task.

Dan Thornton, lead author of the new study from England's University of Manchester and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, said, "The radio bursts last for just a few milliseconds and the farthest one that we detected was 11 billion light-years away."

The findings open the door to studying an entirely new class of eruptive cosmic events and can also help with cosmology mysteries, for example, about the nature of matter in the universe.

Our sky is full of flares and bursts of varying natures. For instance, gamma-ray bursts are thought to occur when stars collapse into black holes. They are routinely detected by a network of telescopes on the ground and in space, including NASA's Swift and Fermi. When one telescope in the network detects a burst, it can notify others to quickly slew to the target for coordinated observations.

The newfound radio bursts, while likely of a different origin than gamma-ray bursts, also consist of light waves generated by powerful events happening at great distances. Researchers would like to develop systems similar to the gamma-ray burst networks of telescopes to follow up quickly on radio bursts, but this is more challenging because radio waves are slowed by gas in space. Time is needed to process the radio observations and tease out the short-lived bursts.

On the other hand, the fact that radio waves are impeded as they travel through space to reach us offers benefits. By studying how the radio waves have been slowed, scientists can better understand baryonic matter, the material that gets in the way. Baryonic matter is what makes up people and planets and everything you see. The rest of the universe consists of mysterious substances called dark matter and dark energy.

Exactly what is triggering the release of the radio waves is unknown. Theories include colliding neutron stars or black holes; evaporating black holes; and stellar explosions called supernovae. The new data do not fit nicely with any of these scenarios, leaving the scientists perplexed.

Further scans for radio bursts using the Parkes Observatory are ongoing. Researchers are also using other telescopes to search for and characterize these events. For instance, the V-Fastr project, developed in part at JPL, is currently running on the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Long Baseline Array, an international network of telescopes. It will enable scientists to localize a burst's origin to a precise location in a distant host galaxy.

Other institutions participating in this study are: Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Germany; the INAF-Cagliari Astronomical Observatory and the Cagliari Observatory and University, Italy; Swinburne University of Technology, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics and Curtin University, all in Australia; and West Virginia University, Morgantown.

JPL is managed by the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, for NASA.

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
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  1. Anonymous8:54 AM

    Man that stuff is fascinating. Of course I'm sure when Johnny hears about "dark matter" he checks his shorts.

  2. Anonymous8:55 AM

    You know JPL equipment is designed on the principles of global warming (blanket effect). But don't tell Volty that, ...cuz...he's not buyin it.

  3. We are not alone............the "Evil Genius" is out there!!!

    You should join "Battlefield 3,Worf, so I can turn your fat head into a pink mist with my sniper rifle......LOL!

    Of course its hard to purchase an X-box when you're on welfare.

  4. Anonymous7:12 AM

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  5. Anonymous7:16 AM

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  6. Anonymous7:29 AM

    And before you start blubbering, remember Johnny. The reason I earn more than you and don't have to do menial labor to earn it like you do, because when I get off work, I don't waste my valuable time playing infantile video games on children's infantile toys.

    When I'm not working, I spend my valuable time doing valuable things, like upgrading my skillsets, finding more work, more contracts,and improving myself.

    While you're swilling that watered down Canadian lager and chain smoking Marlboro lights, I'm working out on an 80 pound heavy bag, or lifting weights in my spacious, well equipped private home gym, or splitting a cord of wood by hand.

    When you're passed out, drunk on the couch, spittle draining from the corner of your mouth, empty beer bottle stuffed with half smoked cigarettes and some kid in Detroit repeatedly kicking your virtual character in the head in the video game you were too drunk to finish before nature took its course, .....I'm up with the dawn patrol, doing a two mile run through the woods before sitting down to work.

    We reap what we sow Johnny. And we can see what you've sown, by what you've reaped.

  7. Gee,all that money and all those luxuries............meanwhile 40,000 children die each week of hunger..............typical selfish,phony,liberal!!

    : |

  8. Anonymous9:12 AM

    Well first, I'd say low 6 figures isn't "all that money", ....though it probably is to you I'm sure.

    And as for the bullshit about my being a liberal, ...oh Johnny, there you go again.

    Lying, because you can't handle reality.

  9. Anonymous9:20 AM

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  10. Anonymous9:28 AM

    Remember Johnny. They can take the booze. They can take the mutt. They can take the toys. But the one thing they can never take from you once you have it, is your honor. Your integrity. That'a a gift a man gives to himself, and no man but himself can take it from him.

    You take it from yourself almost every time you open your mouth in here.

    If your keyboards moving, you're lying.

    On this fine Sunday, I challenge you to demand more of yourself. Cast off that piece of shit liar inside of you that's been holding you back.

    Step out into the light and learn to live with truth. You won't be sorry I promise you that.

    Or, you can stay where you are, lost in an endless sea of your own dishonor and deceit.

    Its entirely up to you.

  11. Anonymous10:24 AM

    And jokes aside, you know I like you Johnny. For all your faults, even though you lie more than you tell truth, ..even though we share a completely opposing ideological viewpoint on most things, for some reason I actually like you. Perhaps you've grown on me over the years as I've said before. Sort of a "friendly nemesis" if you will.

    I don't really like Voltron. I don't hate him. But I don't really like him. He's not someone I could pal with. He's just too far gone. But you and me like some of the same stuff, and would probably have been pals to a degree back in the day. Of course you'd have to keep up, which would have meant cutting back on the smokes and boozin, but yea, I could see it.

    But you make it so hard to like you for long, because its hard to like someone when you keep losing respect for them.

    I could respect you more, if you were just honest with yourself and with us in here.

  12. Calm down Worf you shmuck.............Im just teasin ya....LOL!

    But,you should drink beer!! Right now Im cookin prime rib hamburgers whilst slinging back a "Sleeman" brew........mmmmmmmmmmm.......smooth!!

    : )

  13. Anonymous3:36 PM

    Well, if you give me one of them tasty sounding hamburgers then I'd drink an O'doul's with ya.

  14. Anonymous3:37 PM

    "...I'd gladly eat a hamburger today...and pay you next Tuesday for it...."

  15. Of the many mysteries of modern physics, few compare to "nonlocality" in quantum physics. Nonlocality means that far away objects can influence one another instantaneously (or, at least, much faster than the speed of light). It is as if space and time didn't exist!

  16. Worf, doesn't have a pot to piss in, and he damn well knows it

  17. Anonymous5:05 PM

    That's why I got you Clippy. :)

  18. Who is CLIPPY really? Is he Mumbles or Skippy or Tekweelah?
    Have you seen Ed Bassmaster's videos of Clippy?