Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mysterious Big Burst of Radio Waves

Astronomers have a puzzle on their hands. As reported in the Science daily news (link probably open for free only for a limited time), a large burst of radio signal came and went mysteriously.

The mystery signal represents something else entirely. It packed as much energy in its mere 5-millisecond duration as the sun puts out in a month, making it by far the strongest, quickest signal radio astronomers have observed, although it wasn't nearly as powerful as the elusive gamma ray bursts that populate the universe.

This is where science expands its boundary of knowledge, when unexpected discovery, measurements, or results are obtained. So what could be the possible cause of such a signal?

Reporting online today in Science, the researchers say they think only two phenomena could be behind the radio burst they discovered: the merger of two neutron stars or the final evaporation of a black hole. NASA astrophysicist Valerie Connaughton of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, isn't sure either hypothesis will hold up, because no radio burst has ever been associated with either phenomenon. If this one can be linked, however, it would be a "huge deal," she says.

So stay tune!


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