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  HOME | Science, Nature & Technology

Telescope in Puerto Rico Detects Strange, Rapid Bursts of Radio Waves

SAN JUAN – The radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico detected well-defined signals like distant bursts of radio waves or brilliant explosions lasting but fractions of a second, a phenomenon only seen before at Parkes Observatory in Australia.

The director of the Astronomy Section at Arecibo Observatory, a part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Fernando Camilo, confirmed in an interview with Efe on Thursday the discovery made in November 2012 but never announced until this week.

Camilo said the phenomenon has been detected at least seven times through the radio telescope in Australia, but the importance of this one is that for the first time it has been documented at another observatory, which confirms that this is an astronomical reality and cannot be attributed to some peculiarity of a particular instrument.

“The question now is the nature of this phenomenon,” said the scientist, who for years studied astronomy in the United States.

“This could be a powerful burst of radio waves faraway in the universe, a kind of signal never detected before,” which appears to come from outside our galaxy.

The phenomenon detected in November 2012 was a burst that lasted 3 thousandths of a second and came from some unknown point, which the scientist said introduces the idea of a new window on space between galaxies, where, he said, “there are no stars nor anything that shines.”

Scientists at Parkes Observatory in Australia first detected these signals in 2007 and calculated them to come from thousands of light years beyond our galaxy.

The discovery at Arecibo Observatory was on Nov. 2, 2012, though the analysis of the phenomenon afterwards took several months to complete.

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