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SPACE CALL: Astronomers capture radio signal from galaxy 8.8 billion light years away!

The project was conducted by a group of Indian and Canadian astronomers using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India
UPDATED JAN 22, 2023
(Representative picture, Getty Images)
(Representative picture, Getty Images)

MAHARASHTRA, INDIA: Astronomers captured a radio signal that is 8.8 billion light years away using a radio telescope. This is the most distant-ever radio signal from a galaxy, which could help learn so much more about the mysteries of the early universe. The record-breaking signal comes from a "star-forming" galaxy named SDSSJ0826+5630 and is said to exist closer to the Big Bang than any other galaxy previously detected using radio astronomy. The signal was captured by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India, by researchers from both India and Canada.

New York Post reported that the method used is called gravitational lensing (colloquially known as nature’s magnifying glass), which is basically a ripple in space-time that allows background objects to be magnified as much as possible by foreground objects. It must be noted that this accomplishment is noteworthy given the distance between the galaxy and Earth-radio signal grows weaker with distance, making it difficult to pick up the signals. The signal was reportedly detected using a "21 centimeter line," which is said to be emitted by neutral hydrogen atoms.


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“It’s the equivalent to a look-back in time of 8.8 billion years,” author and McGill University Department of Physics post-doctoral cosmologist Arnab Chakraborty said, adding, “A galaxy emits different kinds of radio signals. Until now, it’s only been possible to capture this particular signal from a galaxy nearby, limiting our knowledge to those galaxies closer to Earth. This will help us understand the composition of galaxies at much greater distances from Earth."

While galaxies emit light in varied wavelengths, the 21-centimeter wavelength radio wave was only ever recorded using galaxies nearby. The signal allowed for astronomers to measure the galaxy’s mass using its measurement of the gas content. It has been determined that the galaxy is double the weight of stars visible from the Earth.

The field of study that this comes under is known as radio astronomy. ASTRON defines radio astronomy as, “A part of astronomy that, like optical astronomy, studies the celestial objects (planets, stars, galaxies etc.) by "capturing" the light that they emit, but that, unlike optical astronomy, cannot be seen with our eyes.” The radio emission from these objects are detected using radio telescopes.