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A Population of Fast Radio Bursts at Cosmological Distances

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Science  05 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6141, pp. 53-56
DOI: 10.1126/science.1236789

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Mysterious Radio Bursts

It has been uncertain whether single, short, and bright bursts of radio emission that have been observed are celestial or terrestrial in origin. Thornton et al. (p. 53; see the Perspective by Cordes) report the detection of four nonrepeating radio transient events with millisecond duration in data from the 64-meter Parkes radio telescope in Australia. The properties of these radio bursts indicate that they had their origin outside our galaxy, but it is not possible to tell what caused them. Because the intergalactic medium affects the characteristics of the bursts, it will be possible to use them to study its properties.

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