Astronomers detect radio signals from a distance of 8.8 billion light years

An international team of researchers has discovered radio signals coming from an extremely distant galaxy. The message was recorded by a giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India. This discovery marks the first time that humanity has been able to detect signals that are believed to have been created by atomic hydrogen in a distant galaxy known as SDSSJ0826+5630. The distance from which the signal was received was calculated — 8.8 billion years (z =1.3).

Radio Telescope. Photo: Unsplash

The researchers noticed that the atomic mass of the gas content of this particular galaxy is almost twice the mass of the stars visible to us. Atomic hydrogen is the main fuel contributing to the formation of stars, which means that the study can help us understand how stars are formed in galaxies billions of light-years away.

Gravitational lensing

Astronomers have taken advantage of gravitational lensing. This is a phenomenon in which a massive body located between the source and the observer, for example, a galaxy, bends the light emitted by a distant source.

“Gravitational lensing magnifies the signal coming from a distant object to help us peer into the early universe. In this specific case, the signal is bent by the presence of another massive body amplifying it 30 times, allowing the telescope to pick it up,” says co-author Nirupam Roy, an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science.

“This discovery allowed to determine the gas composition of SDSSJ0826+5630. The study will help us understand the composition of galaxies at a much greater distance from Earth,” explained Arnab Chakraborty, a graduate student at McGill University and lead author of a new study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The researchers hope that their results may open up new ways to study distant galaxies using existing low-frequency radio telescopes, which may be the key to unlocking the mysteries of how the cosmos evolved during the lifetime of the Universe.

Earlier we reported on how James Webb found the galaxy at the age of 13.5 billion years.

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