Friday, January 09, 2009

"Mystery Roar From Space"

NASA researchers have apparently discovered the most powerful source of radio emissions in the known universe:

...the newly detected signal, described here today at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, is far louder than astronomers expected.

There is "something new and interesting going on in the universe," said Alan Kogut of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"The universe really threw us a curve," Kogut said. "Instead of the faint signal we hoped to find, here was this booming noise six times louder than anyone had predicted."

Detailed analysis of the signal ruled out primordial stars or any known radio sources, including gas in the outermost halo of our own galaxy.

Other radio galaxies also can't account for the noise – there just aren't enough of them.

"You'd have to pack them into the universe like sardines," said study team member Dale Fixsen of the University of Maryland. "There wouldn't be any space left between one galaxy and the next."

The signal is measured to be six times brighter than the combined emission of all known radio sources in the universe.

Emphasis mine. This is a stunning find. Quasars are the most powerful source or electromagnetic emissions in the universe, and this is six times more powerful than all of those lumped together with the every other sources of radio waves in the known universe. Speculation is that the source is from the formation of stars early in the universe, or their collapse into black holes, but so far researchers haven't pinpointed exactly where the signal is coming from so there's no way of telling how old it is yes.

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