Mysterious Radio Signals May Test Einstein's Theory of General Relativity

First Posted: Dec 31, 2015 11:22 AM EST

Mysterious radio signals from space may actually be a much better test for Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. Scientists have taken a closer look at the blast of rare radio signals to learn a bit more about our universe.

Fast Radio Bursts are super-brief blasts of energy that last just a few milliseconds. Until now, only about a dozen Fast Radio Bursts have been detected on Earth. They appeared to be caused by mysterious events beyond our Milky Way Galaxy, and possibly even beyond the Local Group of galaxies that includes the Milky Way. In this case, though, the researchers created a new technique for analyzed the observations of Fast Radio Bursts.

The new test involves an analysis of how much space curvature the photons experienced due to massive objects along or near their path through space.

"With abundant observational information in the future, we can gain a better understanding of the physical nature of Fast Radio Bursts," said Peter Meszaros, senior author of the new study, in a news release. "When more-powerful detectors provide us with more observations, we also will be able to use Fast Radio Bursts as a probe of their host galaxies, of the space between galaxies, of the cosmic-web structure of the universe, and as a test of fundamental physics."

If Fast Radio Bursts are proven to originate outside the Milky Way Galaxy, and if their distances can be measured accurately, they will be a powerful new tool for testing Einstein's Equivalence Principle and for extending the tested energy range down to radio-band frequencies.

The findings are published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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