Astronomers recently made a fascinating discovery as they detected an eight-billion-year-old radio signal called a "fast radio burst" (FRB).
This particular FRB - named FRB 20220610A - was an incredibly brief burst of radio waves which lasted only a single millisecond.
However, the energy it emitted during that short burst was equivalent to what our sun produces in an astonishing three decades.
This discovery, published in the journal Science, adds to our understanding of the universe's mysteries.
FRBs are unique in the sense that they're brief but incredibly powerful pulses of radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation.
The first FRB was spotted in 2007 and scientists have detected hundreds more since.
These bursts often last mere microseconds which makes it challenging to pinpoint their sources.
In the case of FRB 20220610A, astronomers were able to precisely determine its origin, thanks to advanced technology and collaboration.
This discovery points to the burst's source: a merger of two or three galaxies forming new stars.
It's a remarkable revelation that provides insights into the dynamic and ever-changing universe.
One of the theories among scientists is that these bursts could result from the explosive events of stars. However, the exact mechanisms behind FRBs remain a subject of intense research.
The initial detection of FRB 20220610A was made using the Australian SKA Pathfinder, a powerful radio telescope located in Western Australia.
Subsequently, astronomers employed a large telescope in Chile to locate the source galaxy which turned out to be older and farther away than any other FRB's source identified to date.
What makes FRBs particularly interesting for scientists is their potential to "weigh" the universe by measuring the matter between galaxies that is currently unaccounted for.
More than half of the universe's normal matter, the atoms that make up everything we know, seems to be missing.
Scientists believe that this missing matter might be hiding in the vast spaces between galaxies, and FRBs help shed light on this cosmic mystery.
FRBs are exceptional tools because they can "sense" ionized material and "see" electrons. This allows scientists to measure the amount of matter that resides between galaxies.
In essence, FRBs act as cosmic beacons that help us uncover the hidden secrets of the universe.