The Breakthrough

The new technique, which was proposed by astronomers at the University of British Columbia, relies on mysterious bursts of energy called fast radio bursts. These are brief but intense flashes of radio waves that have been recorded on ten separate occasions only, and researchers don't know what causes them. Scientists believe that they could be used to measure the dimension of faraway galaxies. The paper was published the journal Physical Review Letters.

The Implications

If everything checks out, the new technique could offer an independent metric – set apart from the uncertainties and systemic biases of existing methods – in plotting the large structures of the cosmos in three dimensions.

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