A telescope recently detected signals from a space laser. What could it be?

15/04/2022
Credit image: IDIA/LADUMA using data from NASA/StSci/SKAO/MolView - Artist’s impression of a hydroxyl maser
Credit image: IDIA/LADUMA using data from NASA/StSci/SKAO/MolView - Artist’s impression of a hydroxyl maser

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 15 April 2022, at 10:55 am Los Angeles time

A telescope in South Africa has detected some strange signals, namely a laser radio wave or megamasers that are usually detected in infrared galaxies. This laser was called Nkalakathata, meaning "big boss" in Zulu, spoken in South Africa.

But this new megamaser is very special, being the farthest megamaser discovered so far. The telescope has received signals from it from over 5 billion light-years from Earth.

Besides, this is the first hydroxyl megamasser MeerKAT has ever seen. Hydroxyl is a chemical group consisting of one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom.

The discovery was made by an international team of astronomers and researchers led by researcher Marcin Glowacki.

"When galaxies collide, the gas they contain becomes extremely dense and can trigger concentrated beams of light to shoot out," Glowacki said in a statement.

"It's impressive that, with just a single night of observations, we've already found a record-breaking megamaser," Glowacki also said. "We have follow-up observations of the megamaser planned and hope to make many more discoveries," Glowacki continues.

Megamasters or radio wave lasers are usually formed when two galaxies collide, hence the finding of hydroxyl, because this chemical group occurs in galaxy mergers.

This discovery will make astronomers and researchers learn more about these strange space lasers.

Source: https://arxiv.org/abs/2204.02523

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