Host galaxy of mysterious bright burst identified—25 February 2016
An international team of scientists including the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) and CSIRO has identified for the first time the precise location of a very rare explosive event, called a fast radio burst (FRB), in a distant galaxy. Using a combination of radio and optical telescopes, they were able to conduct a unique census of the Universe’s electron count. This simple, yet powerful, result confirms that just 4% of its mass is everyday matter with the rest hidden in dark matter and energy. "It's the first time a fast radio burst has been used to conduct a cosmological measurement," said lead author Dr Evan Keane, who conceived the study while working for CAASTRO at Swinburne University of Technology. Dr Keane is now based at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) organisation in the UK. The burst—FRB150418—was detected on 18 April last year by CSIRO’s 64-metre Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales where the vast majority of FRBs have been found. The origin of the earlier FRBs is still a mystery, with a long list of potential scenarios that could cause them. Pinpointing the location of ‘FRB150418’ now narrows down this list.

Media issued by the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics.

Image: CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope, which detected FRB150418, superimposed on an image showing the distribution of gas in our Milky Way galaxy. An artist’s impression of a single fast radio burst is shown above the dish.
Image credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions.

Original Published Date: 
Thursday, February 25, 2016