A radio signal from a galaxy far, far away is being tracked by McGill University! Here’s how gravitational lensing helped Indian and Montreal researchers!

Humans have landed on the Moon and many other planets in the solar system, making the nearly impossible detour possible. While humanity is proud of its achievements in the space world, some of the mysteries of the universe still linger, adding to humanity’s thirst for these answers. Rightly so, we humans are not yet satisfied with what we know, and we vow to continue pursuing this endeavor of peeping into the unknown world.

Among all these mysteries of the universe, one question that bothers many great thinkers and astronomers is the formation of stars.

Radio signals from fairly nearby galaxies have been used to answer this question. However, obtaining these signals from distant galaxies becomes almost impossible, as radio signals become weaker in the case of distant galaxies.

Here comes the big news!

Researchers from India and Montreal shook hands to catch a radio signal from a galaxy. What distinguishes this galaxy is that it is the most distant galaxy so far. Its wavelength is 21 cm. This huge discovery has led astronomers to delve into some of the world’s most difficult mysteries.

What’s so special about tracking a radio signal from a distant galaxy by astronomers at McGill University?

Image source: Deccan Herald

  • a A radio signal was picked up at a line 21 cm from the most distant galaxy.
  • It is the first time that this type of radio signal coming from atomic hydrogen has been detected at such a great distance.
  • The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in Pune, India is made for use.
  • The research paved the way for studies of the formation of distant galaxies.
  • The tracking was possible due to a natural phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.
  • The most distant galaxy captured by the 21-cm emission so far was at a redshift z = 0.376.

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For the first time, researchers have succeeded in detecting a radio signal from a distant star-forming galaxy and recording the formation of galactic gas. The galaxy is called SDSSJ0826+5630.

Researchers from India and Montreal noted that the atomic mass of this galaxy of gas content is almost twice that of stars visible to us.

When the universe was only about 4.9 billion years old, the signal was emitted from this galaxy. This, in turn, made it possible for researchers to look into the mysteries of the early universe.

Arnab Chakraborty, a postdoctoral researcher in cosmology at McGill puts it right by saying, “It’s the equivalent of looking back in time by 8.8 billion years.”

So what is gravitational lensing, after all?


Image source: ThoughtCo

As mentioned above, gravitational lensing is a naturally occurring phenomenon. It occurs in a situation where a large amount of matter, such as a group of galaxies, forms a gravitational field that distorts and magnifies the light coming from distant galaxies behind it, however, in the same line of sight. The gravitational lens effect is like looking through a huge magnifying glass.

Nirupama Roy, associate professor in the Department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science says, “Gravitational lensing amplifies the signal coming from a distant object to help us look out into the early universe. In this specific case, the signal is bent by the presence of another massive object, another galaxy, between the target and the observer. This effectively amplifies the signal by a factor of 30, allowing for the telescope to pick it up.”

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What do the researchers say about this radio signal detection?

The researchers are excited about the opportunities this tracking of radio signals presents. Arnab Chakraborty, a postdoctoral researcher at McGill University, Canada, says, “The galaxy emits different types of radio signals. Until now, it has only been possible to pick up this particular signal from a nearby galaxy, and limit our knowledge to those galaxies closest to Earth.”

But with the help of a naturally occurring phenomenon called gravitational lensing, we can pick up a faint signal from a record distance. This will help us understand the formation of galaxies at much greater distances from Earth,” added the researcher.

The International Ismaili Studies Institute (IISc) has stated that the astronomical distance from which the radio signal was detected is “The biggest yet by a wide margin.”

This is what McGill University tweeted!

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