A Bright Millisecond Radio Burst of Extragalactic Origin
Pulsar surveys offer a rare opportunity to monitor the radio sky for impulsive burst-like events with millisecond durations. We analyzed archival survey data and found a 30-jansky dispersed burst, less than 5 milliseconds in duration, located 3° from the Small Magellanic Cloud. The burst properties argue against a physical association with our Galaxy or the Small Magellanic Cloud. Current models for the free electron content in the universe imply that the burst is less than 1 gigaparsec distant. No further bursts were seen in 90 hours of additional observations, which implies that it was a singular event such as a supernova or coalescence of relativistic objects. Hundreds of similar events could occur every day and, if detected, could serve as cosmological probes.
"A Bright Millisecond Radio Burst of Extragalactic Origin" D. R. Lorimer, M. Bailes, M. A. McLaughlin, D. J. Narkevic, & F. Crawford, Science, 318, 777 (2007).