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Fast Radio Burst Help Scientists To Locate Home Galaxy For First Time

Update Date: Feb 25, 2016 08:46 AM EST

Scientists have located the source of a fast radio burst (FRB) due to the efforts of the Australia Telescope Compact Array. Astronomers have identified these short blasts of radio waves from outer space, each of which lasted merely a few milliseconds. Their origins, though, have not been identified so far.

The pulse is sourced to a galaxy, which is six billion light years away from ours, and which happened due to the collision of two neutron stars. The finding is the "measurement the field has been waiting for" according to astronomer Kiyoshi Masui. He explains that identifying the source of FRBs and measuring the distance to the source will enable scientists to get an insight into the evolution of the earth.

The FRB analyzed by the scientists was found in April 2015 and persisted for just a millisecond. Hence, it was the shortest found as yet. Yet, it generated an afterglow in the same region that it originated in, which made scientists narrow down the search field to a solo elliptical galaxy that seemed to be the most likely source of the burst.

"The field is about to transition from being kind of a fringe, astrophysical-curiosity freak show to potentially a mainstream research area," Duncan Lorimer, the astronomer who located the first FRB in 2007, said in a press release. "We'll have the potential to soon be overwhelmed by these things," he said.

The findings were published in Feb. 24, 2016 issue of Nature.

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