Radio Signals from the Edge of the Universe Are Clues to Big Bang


Science World Reports that scientists have detected radio waves from objects in space.  The radio waves are not evidence of extraterrestrial life but natural phenomena, but they were probably emitted at a time when the universe was only half its current age. The radio signals can be related to the beginning of time at the Big Bang, and to what we can’t see beyond the edge of the universe.

A single burst of radio waves six years ago resulted in a four-year search for more of them in the universe.   Four more were found.  They lasted a few seconds, but originated from a distance of 11 billion light-years from Earth.

The source of the radio signals may be a type of neutron star.  A neutron star is solid nuclear matter that is the remnant of a supernova explosion.  A neutron star spins at hundreds of times per second, creating a magnetic field along its axis. Because a neutron star spins and gives off light, it appears to pulsate and is therefore referred to as a pulsar.  Pulsars are akin to stellar lighthouses.

A neutron star is twice the size of the sun, compacted into an area about 12 miles in diameter, the size of a city like Los Angeles or Manhattan Island.  A cubic meter of neutron star material would weigh slightly less than 400 billion tons.  That is the same weight as all the water in the Atlantic Ocean.

A type of neutron star is a “magnetar.” It is distinguished from other neutron stars because it has a much more powerful magnetic field.  These magnetic fields are hundreds of millions of times stronger than the “pull” of a magnet on Earth.  The magnetic fields create bursts of X-rays and gamma rays. Starquakes triggered on the surface of the magnetar disturb the magnetic field and cause gamma ray flare emissions which have been recorded on Earth. A starquake occurs when the crust of the star undergoes a sudden adjustment, something akin to an earthquake on Earth.

A magnetar gives off more energy in a millisecond than our own sun does in 300,000 years, Magnetars may be the source of these radio bursts that are now being detected.

However, magnetars have a relatively short life span.  Their strong magnetic fields decay after about 10,000 years. The decay of their magnetic fields causes the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation like X-rays and gamma rays.  After 10,000 years, the activity and emissions of the magnetar cease.  Based on the number of observable magnetars, there may be 30 million or more inactive magnetars in the Milky Way alone.

How are the radio signals, from the edge of the visible universe, related to the Big Bang?

The reason scientists are able to calculate that the radio signals occurred when the universe was half its present age is due to the expansion of the universe.  People tend to imagine this expansion to mean that stars and galaxies are moving out into the void.  But it is space itself that is expanding.

Scientists believe the universe began in a fiery explosion 13.7 billion years ago, in what is popularly known as the “Big Bang.” As noted by Michio Kaku, noted astronomer and author of several books, including Parallel Worlds:  a Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions and the Future of the Cosmos, the Big Bang wasn’t big, but infinitesimal, and wasn’t a bang, because there were no sound waves to carry the noise.

Under the inflationary theory, which was a refinement of the big bang theory and first proposed by physicist Alan Guth at MIT, the universe began in a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.  A mysterious antigravitational force caused space to expand faster than the speed of light (at a factor of 1050 in a fraction of a second).  As described by Stephen Hawking, the point that originated the universe was a “singularity” of zero size and infinite density.  It was also infinitely hot.

The expansion of space can be compared to a balloon inflating.  The stars and galaxies are not clustered together inside the balloon, but lie on the surface, so they are drawn apart by the expansion.  The edge of the visible universe is 12 to 13 billion light years from Earth.  Near the edge are huge galactic engines called quasars, which generate enormous amounts of energy, far greater than what is created by stars or magnetars.

However, the visible universe would be represented by a microscopic circle on the balloon.  There are regions of the universe beyond what we can see with our telescopes that we will never be able to find.

Thus radio signals not only point backwards to the beginning but to a place far beyond the observable limits of the universe.

By:  Tom Ukinski

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.