Cosmic Radiowave
© The Independent, UK
The mysterious ‘blitzar’ has been heard since 2007, but scientists have caught it live for the first time.
As live performances go, a mysterious pulse of radio waves emanating from deep in the universe has to be up with the greats. And scientists have finally caught it.

The blitzars last only about a millisecond - during which time they give out as much energy as the sun does in a million years, according to the New Scientist - and have only ever been heard on historical data.

The source must be "huge, cataclysmic and up to 5.5 billion light years away," one scientist told the New Scientist.

But a team of scientists from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia has identified one of them live, as it happened.
Cosmic Radiowave_1
© Swinburne Astronomy Productions
A mysterious "fast radio burst" was seen for the first time in real time by astronomers, a strange phenomenon whose origins have yet to be discovered, new research finds. [Pictured: An illustration of CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope receiving the polarized signal from the new 'fast radio burst'.]
Nobody really knows where the blitzars come from - a top contender is a huge neutron star that should have given way to a black hole, but didn't - but the new findings are likely to help scientists find out.

When the blitzar was spotted by a team led by Emily Petroff, other telescopes were turned towards the source, helping to study the aftereffects. They didn't see any afterglow - ruling out some of the possible sources such as a supernova.

Scientists hope that they will soon discover another blitzar in a different frequency range. That will allow them to conclusively associate it with something and will help pin it down to a specific source.