Australian scientists, using a radio telescope, have nearly doubled the known number of mysterious 'fast radio bursts' -- powerful flashes of radio waves from deep space.
The findings, published in the journal Nature, include the closest and brightest fast radio bursts ever detected.
Fast radio bursts come from all over the sky and last for just milliseconds, said researchers from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia.
Scientists don't know what causes them but it must involve incredible energy -- equivalent to the amount released by the Sun in 80 years.
"We have found 20 fast radio bursts in a year, almost doubling the number detected worldwide since they were discovered in 2007," said Ryan Shannon from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia.
"Using the new technology of the Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), we have also proved that fast radio bursts are coming from the other side of the universe rather than from our own galactic neighbourhood," said Shannon.
Jean-Pierre Macquart, from the Curtin University in Australia, said bursts travel for billions of years and occasionally pass through clouds of gas.
"Each time this happens, the different wavelengths that make up a burst are slowed by different amounts," he said.
"Eventually, the burst reaches Earth with its spread of wavelengths arriving at the telescope at slightly different times, like swimmers at a finish line," Macquart said.
"Timing the arrival of the different wavelengths tells researchers how much material the burst has travelled through on its journey.
"Because we have shown that fast radio bursts come from far away, we can use them to detect all the missing matter located in the space between galaxies--which is a really exciting discovery," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)