Monday, 17 February, 2020


Mysterious Fast Radio Burst Detected In Nearby Galaxy

An image of the host galaxy of FRB 180916 acquired with the eight-metre Gemini North telescope of NSF’s OIR Lab on Hawaii’s Maunakea. The origin point has been circled Mysterious Fast Radio Burst Detected In Nearby Galaxy
Kristine Garrett | 08 January, 2020, 22:39

At half-a-billion light years from Earth, the source of FRB 180916 is around seven times closer than the only other repeating burst researchers have localized, and more than 10 times closer than any of the few non-repeating FRBs scientists have managed to pinpoint.

Astronomers have only followed the signal of a mysteriously repeating fast radio burst for the second time - and it is in a spiral galaxy that resembles our own and is not that far away.

The small green circle marks the location to which astronomers tracked the fast radio burst FRB 180916.

"The unique proximity and repetition of this FRB might allow for observation in other wavelengths and the potential for more detailed study to understand the nature of this type of FRB", said Bandura.

The mystery stems from the fact it is not known what could produce such a short and sharp burst.

Since 2007, just 85 cosmic radio wave bursts have been detected.

"The FRB is one of the closest to date and we have even speculated that it could be a more conventional object on the outskirts of our own galaxy", said Mohit Bhardwaj, co-author of the work, in a statement.

The CHIME telescope, or the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, was created to study a variety of radio wave phenomena in the cosmos, including pulsars.

However, this newly discovered repeating FRB has a different source than the first one found in 2019, deepening the mystery of how these radio waves originated.

The study was published in the journal Nature on Monday and its results were presented at the 235th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Honolulu.

Co-author of the study Kenzie Nimmo from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands explained that the object's location is "radically different from that of not only the previously located repeating FRB, but also all previously studied FRBs".

"The multiple flashes that we witnessed in the first repeating FRB arose from very particular and extreme conditions inside a very tiny (dwarf) galaxy", said astronomer Benito Marcotte of the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC. "Now, we have localised a second repeating FRB, which challenges our previous ideas on what the source of these bursts could be". This is equivalent of trying to spot a person on Earth from the moon.

This new repetitive fast radio burst differs not only from the other repeated repetitive tracked but from all fast radio bursts ever tracked. According to Burke-Spolair, this led to research papers saying that repeating fast radio bursts are produced in magnetars or neutron stars with strong magnetic fields. "FRBs may be made in a large zoo from locations across the universe and only certain conditions need to be visible".

Two years ago, astronomers found a "repeater" home galaxy but last year was the first time they have exactly located a "one-off" ripple.

"We know that this is a star-forming region because we measured ionized gas at that location-and the source of ionization (energy) is consistent with coming from young stars", Hessel told Newsweek. They may have changed their beliefs concerning how these signals are produced.

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