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A Bright Millisecond Radio Burst of Extragalactic Origin

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Science  02 Nov 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5851, pp. 777-780
DOI: 10.1126/science.1147532

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Abstract

Pulsar surveys offer a rare opportunity to monitor the radio sky for impulsive burst-like events with millisecond durations. We analyzed archival survey data and found a 30-jansky dispersed burst, less than 5 milliseconds in duration, located 3° from the Small Magellanic Cloud. The burst properties argue against a physical association with our Galaxy or the Small Magellanic Cloud. Current models for the free electron content in the universe imply that the burst is less than 1 gigaparsec distant. No further bursts were seen in 90 hours of additional observations, which implies that it was a singular event such as a supernova or coalescence of relativistic objects. Hundreds of similar events could occur every day and, if detected, could serve as cosmological probes.

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