"The giant Parkes radio telescope in southeastern Australia detected the burst on May 14 last year. Within hours of the discovery, 12 different telescopes both on Earth and in space were pointed in the direction of the burst, but none recorded any unusual activity. "Most of the events that astronomers know about that could cause a burst of radio waves, such as an exploding star, would continue to give off light or X-rays or gamma rays for some time. "Finding nothing only deepens the mystery about what's behind the bursts. Details of the finding appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society."The first of these cosmic outbursts was detected fairly recently, in 2007. Last year, a radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected the same brief and powerful waves the Parkes facility had earlier reported. Calling fast radio bursts "tantalizing mysteries of the radio sky," the more than 30 researchers who took part in the study say they found last May's FRB "during a campaign to re-observe known FRB fields." But while the scientists note that the recent FRB was detected close to a previously discovered phenomenon, they concluded that the two are "distinct objects." More via The Two-Way : NPR.
On a graph, they look like detonations. Scientists call them "fast radio bursts," or FRBs: mysterious and strong pulses of radio waves that seemingly emanate far from the Milky Way. The bursts are rare; they normally last for only about 1 millisecond. In a first, researchers in Australia say they've observed one in real time. NPR's Joe Palca reports: