After just four days of observation, the telescope has detected mysterious signal from deep space which has surprised astronomers.
Less than a week into its research, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope detected radio bursts. The bursts were emanating from the constellation Leo.
The strange and rare signals are what is known as ‘fast radio bursts’ or FRBs. However, scientists are still unsure what causes them. What they know is that they can emit as much energy in a second than the sun does in 10,000 years. So, that’s TOO much energy.
They are way too hard to study and predict when they are coming. That’s because they can last as little as a millisecond.
Until the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) started scouring the skies, only 23 had ever been found. Astronomers identified most of those in previously recorded data.
The key to the discovery is a new type of radio telescope technology called the “phased array feed.” Most telescopes only look at one area of the sky at a time. The phased array feed, with each camera made up of 188 receivers, allows the researchers (from CSIRO, Curtin University and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research) to look at 240 square degrees of the sky, pointing the dishes in different directions.
Dr. Jean-Pierre Macquart from Curtin University, the co-author of the study, added that while it is unclear what FRBs are, “the universe has more imagination than we do”.
Due to their mysterious nature, many theories have surfaced regarding FRBs.
Some proposed that black holes could be responsible. But scientists from the esteemed Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said earlier this year that they cannot rule out any possible alien technology.