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Friday, October 5, 2007

Radio signal heard from deep space

The huge burst of energy, which has startled scientists with its strength, is thought to have originated over 500 mega-parsecs or one-and-a-half billion light years from earth.

A TEAM of American astronomers has detected a huge burst of radio energy from deep space while using the Parkes radio telescope in NSW

Professor Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University in Melbourne said that the burst was unusual as this kind of activity was usually very faint at such extreme distances.

"Normally the kind of cosmic activity we're looking for at this distance would be very faint but this was so bright that it saturated the equipment," he said in a statement.

The burst of energy, which lasted for only five milliseconds, was so strong that when it was first detected six years ago it was dismissed as man-made interference.

The significance of the burst was discovered by David Narkevik, an undergraduate from West Viginia University, when he re-analysed the six-year-old data collected at Parkes.

Lead researcher Assistant Professor Duncan Lorimer from West Virginia University said that the burst may have been a result of two stars colliding or the death of a black hole.

"The burst may have been produced by an exotic event such as the collision of two neutron stars or be the last gasp of a black hole as it evaporates completely," he said.

The amount of energy thrown out by the burst was 10exp33 joules or the equivalent to the amount of energy that around 185.3 billion average Australian homes would use in a year.

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