Between wars, political conflict, and the economy, you may feel some mornings like just staying in bed and pulling a blanket over your head. So here’s a bright spot to help you start your day.
Scientists working at the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India have detected a radio signal emanating by one of the universe’s earliest atoms nearly 9 billion light years from the earth! According to a recent posting to the LiveScience website, the radio signal was generated from neutral hydrogen atoms, one of the universe’s most primitive elements formed from the debris generated by the Big Bang 400,000 years after the birth of the universe.
According to the posting, a neutral hydrogen atom emits electromagnetic radiation at a wavelength of 21 centimeters, placing it in the category of radio waves. Prior to the GMRT discovery, the furthest such signal to be detected was from about 4.4 million light-years away, less than half the distance of the most recently detected signal.
The GMRT scientists were reportedly able to leverage an effect based on Einstein’s theory of relativity called “gravitational lensing,” in which a signal coming from a distant object is magnified. In this case, gravitational lensing magnified the signal by a factor of 30, allowing the GMRT telescopes to detect it.