‘Blob-like’ home of farthest-known fast radio burst is collection of seven galaxies

A Hubble Space Telescope image of the host galaxy of an exceptionally powerful fast radio burst, FRB 20220610A.

In summer 2022, astronomers detected the most powerful fast radio burst (FRB) ever observed. And coming from a location that dates halfway back to the Big Bang, it also was the farthest known FRB spotted to date.

Using images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the researchers traced the FRB back to not one galaxy but a group of at least seven galaxies. The galaxies in the collection appear to be interacting with one another — perhaps even on the path to a potential merger. Such groups of galaxies are rare and possibly led to conditions that triggered the FRB. The unexpected finding might challenge scientific models of how FRBs are produced and what produces them.

Flaring up and disappearing within milliseconds, FRBs are brief, powerful radio blasts that generate more energy in one quick burst than our sun emits in an entire year. And FRB 20220610A was even more extreme than its predecessors. Not only was it four times more energetic than closer FRBs, it also clocked in as the most distant FRB yet discovered. When FRB 20220610A originated, the universe was just 5 billion years old. (For comparison, the universe is now 13.8 billion years old.)

Read the full CIERA news story here.

Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, Alexa Gordon (Northwestern)

  • Science