Three Fast Radio Bursts Punched Right Through a Nearby Galaxy

Three new Fast Radio Bursts discovered by the Westerbork telescope were shown to have pierced the halo of our neighbouring Triangulum Galaxy. Invisible electrons in that galaxy deform the FRBs. From sharp, new, live images, astronomers could estimate the maximum number of invisible atoms in the Triangulum Galaxy for the first time. (Credit: ASTRON/Futselaar/van Leeuwen)

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are cosmic mysteries that are slowly but surely revealing their secrets. These bright flashes of light are visible in the radio wave part of the spectrum and usually last only a few milliseconds before fading away forever. They come from random locations across the Universe and are so powerful that we can see them emanating from billions of light-years away.

Astronomers have used a newly upgraded radio telescope array to find five new FRBs and discovered that multiple bursts pierced right through the Triangulum Galaxy (M33). These brief flashes lit up the gas inside M33, allowing astronomers to calculate the maximum number of otherwise invisible atoms.

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