Astronomers Detect New Unusual Fast-Repeating Radio Burst 3 Billion Light-Years Away

(CNN) – Astronomers have detected a mysterious, fast, repeating radio burst emanating from a dwarf galaxy located 3,000 million light-years away.

The cosmic object is special compared to other burst detections. radio in recent yearsaccording to new research.

Fast Radio Bursts, or FRBs, are millisecond-long bursts of radio waves in space. Individual radio bursts are transmitted once and are not repeated. But fast-repeating radio bursts are known to send out short radio waves and vigorous several times.

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Astronomers have been able to trace some radio bursts back to their home galaxies, but have yet to determine the actual cause of the pulses. Learn more about the origin of these incandescent radio emissions and intense could help scientists understand what causes them.

This image, taken by the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, shows object FRB 190520 when active (in red).

Astronomers spotted the object, dubbed FRB 190520, when it emitted a burst of radio waves on May 20, 2019. The researchers used the FAST radio telescope 500 meters Aperture, China, and discovered the burst of data from the telescope in November 2019. Astronomers made follow-up observations and noticed something unusual: the object was emitting frequent and repeated bursts of radio waves.

In 2020, the team used the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) Astronomical Observatory to locate the source of the burst before focusing on it using the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii. Visible-light observations from Subaru showed that the burst originated from the outskirts of a distant dwarf galaxy.

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A study detailing the results was published Wednesday in the academic journal Nature.

two of its kind

VLA observations also revealed that the celestial object was constantly emitting weaker radio waves between repeated bursts. This is very similar to another known repeated fast radio burst: FRB 121102discovered in 2016.

The initial detection and subsequent tracking of FRB 121102 to its point of origin in a small dwarf galaxy more than 3 billion light-years away was a breakthrough in astronomy. It was the first time that astronomers could know the distance and environment of these mysterious objects.

“We now need to explain this double mystery and why FRBs and persistent radio sources sometimes end up together,” said study co-author Casey Law, a radio astronomy researcher at the California Institute of Technology. “Is this common when FRBs are young? Or maybe the object causing the explosions is a massive black hole messyly engulfing a nearby star? Theorists now have many more details to work with, and the scope of explanations is narrowing.”

At present, we know that Less than 5% hundreds of identified fast radio bursts repeat themselves and only a few are regularly active.

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But FRB 190520 is the only continuously active radio burst, meaning it never has been “extinct” since its discoverysaid study author Di Li, chief scientist of the Radio Division of National Astronomical Observatories of China and the FAST Operations Center. Meanwhile, FRB 121102, “the first known famous repeater, may die out for months,” Li said.

new questions

Recent findings raise more questions, and now astronomers are wondering if there could be two types of fast radio bursts.

“Are those who repeat themselves different from those who don’t?” And persistent radio emission, is that common?Study co-author Kshitij Aggarwal, who participated in the study as a doctoral student at West Virginia University, said in a statement.

It’s possible that there are different mechanisms that cause the radio bursts, or that what causes them behaves differently at different stages of their development.

Scientists had previously speculated that fast radio bursts were caused by the dense remnants left behind after a supernova, called neutron stars, or by neutron stars with incredibly strong magnetic fields called magnetars.

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This is an artist’s concept of a neutron star with an ultra-strong magnetic field, called a magnetar, which emits radio waves (in red).

FRB 190520 is considered a possible “newborn” object because it was found in a dense environment, Law said. This environment may be caused by materials released by a supernova, which led to the creation of a neutron star. As this material disperses over time, FRB 190520 erupts may decrease with age.

In the future, Li wants experience faster radio bursts.

“It is likely that in a few years a consistent picture of the origin and the evolution of FRBsLi said.

Law is excited about the implications of having a new class of sources of radio waves.

“For decades, astronomers thought there were basically two types of radio sources we could see in other galaxies: growth of supermassive black holes and star formation activityLaw said. “Now we say it can no longer be categorized as either! There is a new possibility and we must take it into account when studying the populations of radio sources in the universe.

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