Astronomers detect a signal from a galaxy far, far away

Scientists have managed to do something previously thought impossible: capture a specific species of… wireless signal of a galaxy floating around 9 billion light years from EarthThey announced Monday in a magazine known as

from Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

We are talking about a Kingdom of starsmaybe planets, maybe black holes – all cosmic things – that existed when the universe was about 5 billion years. It’s very young, which is a good while

before the embodiment of our solar system

and the emergence of life as we know it.

This is the first time anyone has picked up this type of radio signal associated with a wavelength known as parting 21 cmover such a great distance.


“It’s the equivalent of going back 8.8 billion years.”to me

he said in a press release

Arnav Chakrabortycosmologist in the Department of Physics at McGill University and co-author of a study on the discovery.

Why do we like a parting of 21 cm?

No matter where you are in the universe, you are likely to end up around some kindhydrogen.

Number 1 on the periodic table and number 1 in our hearts (literally, because it’s in our blood), hydrogen is considered The most abundant element of our universe. You will find it in the water, in your body, in the air and in the sun. Hydrogen is everywhere. And that makes sense.

The items are actually different Different combinations of protons and electrons, and hydrogen has exactly one of each. It’s simple, clean and the perfect item.

Well, let’s stop talking about hydrogen for now. Hydrogen is everywhere in our universe

Great way to see where everything is

Understanding the evolution of the universe. Just follow the hydrogen, neutral hydrogen gas to be exact.


“The cold atomic reservoir of neutral hydrogen provides the primary fuel for star formation in the galaxy.”Write down the study authors.

“Understanding the evolution of galaxies through cosmic time requires knowledge of the cosmic evolution of this neutral gas.”

and the

parting 21 cm

It radio wavelength Emitted from a process carried out by none other than… hydrogen. In fact, when it was

It was officially invented in 1951It was called literally hydrogen line.

That’s why astronomers point their radio telescopes skyward, pick up lots of signals from the 21cm line, and try to figure out where they’re coming from.

Thanks to the font of 21 cm, for example, we were able to admire

The amazing spiral structure

For the Milky Way, note our ins and outs

Galaxy Neighbor

Andromeda, and a study of the shimmering haze of binary

Magellanic Cloud. But what these three kingdoms have in common is that they are next to. We live in one, and the other two are pretty close too – Andromeda on about 2.5 million light years away.


“The galaxy emits different types of radio signals. Until now, it was only possible to pick up this particular signal from a nearby galaxy, which limits our knowledge of galaxies closest to Earth.”Chakraborty said.

However, the font at 21 cm sometimes makes it possible to peek in the farthest corners of the universe. Previous record holders for this very special signal include radio waves from a

A distance of about 5 billion years. But nothing beats the team’s latest discovery, which nearly doubles that distance.

Thanks to Giant Meter Wave Radio Telescope In India, Chakraborty and his colleagues captured a radio signal beam 21 cm high from a galaxy located in It is approximately 9 billion light-years away Named after a complex little robot – SDSSJ0826+5630 – it has allowed them to observe things like the formation of gas in this very distant world of stars.

This is an image of a radio signal from a distant galaxy. Don’t think about it too much. Just realize that this image represents something billions of light-years from where you’re sitting. (Credit: Chakraborty and Roy/NCRA-TIFR/GMRT)

In particular, they found that the atomic mass of the gas contained in this particular galaxy is equivalent to Almost twice The mass of stars visible to us, which means that they are much brighter than previously thought.

General relativity strikes again


Thanks to a natural phenomenon called gravitational lensWe managed to catch a weak signal at a record distance.Chakraborty said.

In short, thegravitational lens effect Refers to how light (visible or invisible) is emitted from stars or other space objects distorted and distorted When it passes in front of an object with a strong gravitational density. This is an amazing result The general theory of relativity einstein,

Which you can read in more detail here.

In this case, the “light” subjected to gravitational lensing is the signal line at 21 cm, and the hyperdense object is a whole galaxy Which is located between the source of the signal and the telescope of the observing team.

“This has the effect of amplifying the signal by a factor of 30, allowing the telescope to pick it up.”
he said in a statement Nirupam Royassociate professor in the Department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science and co-author of the study.

Illustration showing the detection of the signal from a distant galaxy, subject to gravitational lensing. The redshift indicates the distance the object is from the Earth observation point. Higher redshift values ​​mean that something is off. This signal lies around the z ~1.3 redshift. (Credit: Swadha Pardesi)

This is huge, because signals like this usually start to fade as they travel across space vacuummaking it difficult for scientists to catch it before it disappears…

“It will help us understand the formation of galaxies at much greater distances from Earth.”
Chakraborty said.

Looking ahead, according to the research team, these results show that the combination of gravitational lensing and radio astronomy could one day unveil A collection of secrets about the early universe. Perhaps it will reveal a tangle of cosmic paths that we didn’t know needed to be followed.


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