Cosmic mystery solved?  Astronomers say they have identified the origin of burst radio waves

The researchers managed to detect a new fast radio burst originating from a dwarf galaxy located nearly 3 billion light-years from Earth. Experts still do not know their origin.

a group of scientists believes to have made progress in finding a solution to a “cosmic mystery” that has been going on for years. This after detecting powerful bursts of radio waves from a distant dwarf galaxy, according to a study published on Wednesday (06.08.2022) by the journal Nature.

Since their official discovery in 2007, astronomers have worked hard to understand what causes the Fast Radio Burst (or FRB) phenomenon. It consists of pulses of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation from places inside our Milky Way and other galaxies.. Radio waves have the longest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Astronomers suspect that these bursts can be triggered by certain objects as: a neutron star; the compact collapsed core of a massive star that exploded as a supernova at the end of its life cycle; a magnetar, a type of neutron star with an ultra-strong magnetic field; and a black hole absorbing a nearby star.

Bursts of radio waves nearly 3 billion light-years away

researchers identified an FRB from a dwarf galaxy located nearly 3 billion light-years from Earth. A light year is the distance traveled by light in one year: 9.5 billion kilometres. The stellar mass of this galaxy is about 2,500 times larger than our own Milky Way.

The recent FRB first detected in 2019 using the FAST telescope in the Chinese province of Guizhou. It is the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, with a signal reception area equivalent to 30 football fields.

“We continue to call FRBs a cosmic mystery,” said astrophysicist Di Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, chief scientist of FAST and co-author of the research.

What exactly are FRBs?

FRBs are brief, intense flashes of radio light powerful enough to be seen from anywhere in the universe.. These turn on and off in about a millisecond, much faster than the blink of an eye,” said study co-author Casey Law.

“Some FRB sources were found to emit multiple bursts in what appear to be thunderstorms of activity, but others saw only a single flash,” he added.

The newly discovered FRB repeats often and exhibits a persistent but weaker flashing radio emission. In other words, it always stays “on”. Most of the approximately 500 known FRBs do not repeat. The new one looks a lot like another discovered in 2016, which was the first FRB ever identified.

astronomers they suspect that the new FRB described is a “newborn”, still shrouded in dense material thrown into space by a supernova explosion that left behind a neutron star. Repeated bursts may be a feature of younger FRBs, experts say.

These types of findings can help scientists determine the cause of these fast radio bursts. “FRBs quickly became a wonderful example of an astrophysical puzzle.says the law.

“We know more and more about the phenomenon, where the sources are, how often they erupt, etc. However, we are still pursuing this golden measure which will give us a definitive answer to what is causing them,” he concluded.

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