Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers propose new way to chart the cosmos in 3-D


If only calculating the distance between Earth and far-off galaxies was as easy as pulling out the old measuring tape. Now UBC researchers are proposing a new way to calculate distances in the cosmos using mysterious bursts of energy.

In a study featured today in the journal Physical Review Letters, UBC researchers propose a new way to calculate cosmological distances using the bursts of energy also known as fast radio bursts. The method allows researchers to position distant galaxies in three dimensions and map out the cosmos.

UBC researchers are proposing a new way to calculate distances in the cosmos using mysterious bursts of energy.

Credit: Kris Sigurdson

"We've introduced the idea of using these new phenomena to study cosmological objects in the universe," said Kiyoshi Masui, a postdoctoral fellow at UBC and a global scholar with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. "We believe we'll be able to use these flashes to put together a picture of how galaxies are spread through space."

Some unknown astrophysical phenomenon is causing these bursts of energy that appear as a short flashes of radio waves. While only 10 fast radio bursts have ever been recorded, scientists believe there could be thousands of them a day.

As these fast radio bursts travel toward Earth, they spread out and arrive at different times based on their wavelengths. The researchers propose using the delay between the arrival times of different frequencies to map the cosmos.

The amount of spread in the signal that arrives on Earth gives scientists a sense of how many electrons, and by extension how much material including stars, gas and dark matter, are in between Earth and the source of the burst.

Canada's CHIME (Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment) radio telescope could offer the first set of regular data from fast radio bursts. The project is a collaboration between Canadian universities UBC, McGill, and the University of Toronto and is currently under construction at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, Canada.

"CHIME has the potential of seeing tens to hundreds of these events per day so we can build a catalogue of events," said Kris Sigurdson, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy who is also part of the CHIME project. "If they are cosmological, we can use this information to build catalogue of galaxies."

This method could be an efficient way to build a three-dimensional image of the cosmos. The tool could also be used to map the distribution of material in the universe and inform our understanding of how it evolved.



To measure the distance to far away objects and map space, scientists typically use the redshift of light, a technique based on the understanding that our universe is expanding. The further away an object is from the Earth, the faster it moves. The new research offers scientists a different way to chart how matter is distributed in the universe.

With this new method, scientists use the information from radio bursts somewhat like how the time-stamped radio signals of GPS satellites are used to locate our location on Earth. However, this cosmological positioning system is used in reverse to locate where the radio signals are coming from.

Media Contact

Heather Amos


Heather Amos | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>