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More mysterious extragalactic signals detected

A never-before-seen twin fast radio burst may help narrow the search for the source

By
3:22pm, November 25, 2015
Parkes radio telescope

CAUGHT IN THE ACT  Five more fast radio bursts have been detected at the Parkes radio telescope in Australia, shown here.

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, astronomers snagged a two-for-one deal on mysterious blasts of radio waves from other galaxies. An unprecedented double burst recently showed up along with four more of these flashes, researchers report online November 25 at arXiv.org.

Fast radio bursts, first detected in 2007, are bright blasts of radio energy that last for just a few milliseconds and are never seen again (SN: 8/9/14, p. 22). Until now, astronomers had cataloged nine bursts that appeared to originate well outside the Milky Way. Yet, follow-up searches with nonradio telescopes for anything that might be pulsing or exploding keep coming up empty (SN Online: 12/8/14).

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