Astronomers Detect Record-Breaking Energy Bursts in Triangulum Galaxy

After upgrading their radio telescope array, astronomers at Westerbork in the Netherlands discovered five new Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). 

The upgraded telescope images showed that the bursts had penetrated the nearby Triangulum Galaxy, allowing the astronomers to determine, for the first time, the maximum number of atoms in the galaxy that were otherwise invisible. 

FRBs, which emit mainly radio waves, are among the most intense explosions in the universe, detectable from over four billion light-years away. With the upgrade, the Westerbork telescope array was able to produce sharper images than before, enabling the pinpointing of bursts with a broader field of view. 

New and exciting results

The Westerbork upgrade is regarded as an advanced and cutting-edge system that is among the most potent globally. 

The ARTS supercomputer combines twelve Westerbork dishes' images to produce a sharp image covering a vast area. Joeri van Leeuwen, the chief investigator at ASTRON, stated that they now have a tool with a broad field of view and excellent resolution, all in real-time, which is novel and thrilling.

FRBs are of significant interest to astronomers because of their enormous energy output. Neutron stars are believed to be the source of these bursts since their density and magnetic field strength are unparalleled in the universe. 

By examining the flashes, scientists seek better to understand the fundamental properties of the universe's matter.

Skewering galaxies and invisible atoms
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) have the unique property of piercing other galaxies on their journey to Earth, and the electrons in these galaxies distort the flashes. 

Detecting these invisible atoms is significant, and previous radio telescopes could only provide a rough indication of the location of FRBs. However, with the ARTS supercomputer, the Westerbork telescope array can now accurately pinpoint the exact location of FRBs. 

Detecting invisible electrons and atoms is essential as most of the universe's matter is dark and poorly understood. The discovery of the five new FRBs through the upgraded Westerbork telescope array is a significant breakthrough that will help astronomers understand the fundamental properties of the universe's matter. 

The ARTS supercomputer has made this telescope array state-of-the-art, making it one of the most powerful in the world. The Westerbork telescope array determined that three of the newly discovered FRBs pierced through the Triangulum Galaxy, allowing astronomers to count the maximum number of invisible electrons in the galaxy for the first time, which is an impressive result.

Study Abstract

Using the upgraded radio telescope array at Westerbork, The Netherlands, astronomers have detected five new Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) that have penetrated our neighboring Triangulum Galaxy. FRBs are exceptionally brilliant and mainly emit radio waves that can be picked up by radio telescopes from a distance of over four billion light-years away.

These bursts contain vast amounts of energy, making them fascinating to astronomers who suspect they may be generated by neutron stars. 

By combining the images from twelve Westerbork dishes, the Westerbork upgrade has resulted in the development of an advanced machine that allows astronomers to examine the flashes more closely, creating a sharp image over a wide field of view. This capability enables the identification of the exact location of an FRB with greater precision, allowing for the first time the determination of the maximum number of invisible atoms present in the Triangulum Galaxy. 

This discovery marks an important step towards comprehending the fundamental properties of the universe's matter.

This article was originally published in Interesting Engineering