Radio signal nearly 9 billion light-years away captured by telescope on Earth

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Building our future in space and on Earth


Building our future in space and on Earth

07:10

Researchers say they have picked up a radio signal from the farthest galaxy yet. The signal, which had a specific wavelength called the 21 cm line, helps answer questions about the early universe, according to a McGill University press release released last week.

The radio signal, picked up by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India, was in the galaxy known as SDSSJ0826+5630.

Researchers from McGill University and the Indian Institute of Science studied the signal and found that it was emitted when the universe was 4.9 billion years old. “It’s the equivalent of looking back in time 8.8 billion years,” said researcher Arnab Chakraborty, a postdoctoral researcher at McGill.

The telescope was able to pick up the distant signal because it was bent by another galaxy that was between the signal and the telescope, researchers said. “This effectively results in a magnification of the signal by a factor of 30, allowing the telescope to pick it up,” said Nirupam Roy, a study co-author and an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Science.

gigantic-metrewave-radio-telescoop.jpg
One of the dishes of the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune, Maharashtra, India.

National Center for Radio Astrophysics


This signal bending is called gravitational lensing and could help researchers observe distant galaxies and the cosmic evolution of stars.

“A galaxy emits different kinds of radio signals. Until now, it was only possible to pick up this specific signal from a nearby galaxy, so our knowledge is limited to those galaxies closer to Earth,” said Chakraborty. “But with the help of a naturally occurring phenomenon called gravitational lensing, we can pick up a faint signal from a record-breaking distance. This will help us understand the composition of galaxies at much greater distances from Earth.”

The researchers were able to determine that the atomic mass of the hydrogen gas in SDSSJ0826+5630 is almost twice as large as the mass of the stars visible to us. Hydrogen gas “provides the basic fuel for star formation in a galaxy,” the researchers write in the study. “Understanding the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time requires knowledge of the cosmic evolution of this neutral gas.”

The research shows that scientists may be able to investigate the cosmic evolution of neutral gas with low-frequency radio telescopes in the near future.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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