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Mysterious radio signals pack power and brilliance

Gamma rays associated with one of mysterious intergalactic fast radio bursts

2:00pm, November 17, 2016
illustration of Swift satellite

SKY DETECTOR  NASA's Swift satellite (illustrated) detected a blip of gamma rays that might illuminate the source of mysterious cosmic radio bursts, a new study reports.

Mysterious flashes of radio waves from deep space keep coming, but they are just as mysterious as ever.

Gamma rays might have accompanied one of these eruptions, researchers report in the Nov. 20 Astrophysical Journal Letters. This is the first time high-energy photons have been associated with these blasts of radio energy, known as fast radio bursts. If the gamma rays did come from the same place as the radio waves, then the underlying source could be roughly 1 billion times as energetic as thought.

Another burst, meanwhile, takes the record for brightest blast. The signal was bright enough to reveal details about the magnetic field between galaxies, astronomers report online November 17 in Science

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, have intrigued astronomers since the first one was reported in 2007 (SN: 8/9/14, p. 22). Since then, astronomers have discovered 18

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