Scientists from different countries and academic centers detected the largest group of fast radio bursts (FRBs) identified so far. From observations made with China’s powerful FAST radio telescope, they saw more than 1,650 bursts in less than 50 days. The measurements carried out can shed light on the nature and location of these enigmatic bursts, which is currently unknown.
The fast radio bursts or FRB They were first detected in 2007, but despite great scientific efforts and technological advances in the facilities used for their identification, almost 15 years later the source that originates them and their most important characteristics remain an enigma. These are sudden cosmic explosions that last milliseconds: the surprising thing is that each one of them generates an energy equivalent to the annual production of the Sun.
A unique discovery
According to a Press release from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in the United States, one of the institutions that participated in the new study, in addition to registering the largest number of radio bursts detected overall, the discovery also included another outstanding fact: they managed to measure 122 bursts in a one hour period, the highest repetition rate observed to date for any FRB.
As indicated in the research, recently published in the journal Nature, the mysterious signals were detected in a total of 59.5 hours over 47 days, exactly in a period that spans from August 29 to October 29, 2019. The scientists believe that their study achieved the highest level of detail achieved to date in determining the Energy Distribution in radio bursts, along with other conditions that will allow us to decipher the engine that drives these cosmic phenomena in the future.
Related topic: The solar wind would originate the mysterious cosmic radio signals.Related topic: The solar wind would originate the mysterious cosmic radio signals.
The Magnetars Hypothesis
Thanks to the volume of explosions identified, exactly a total of 1,652 independent FRBs from the same unidentified source, the researchers were able to pin down some characteristics of the emissions and test hypotheses. For example, it is believed that these radio bursts may originate from magnetars, which are neutron stars endowed with the strongest magnetic fields in the cosmos.
Of great density and a size comparable to that of a large city on Earth, magnetars produce an enormous amount of energy: all the radio bursts detected in this study represent only 3.8% of the energy generated by a magnetar, also known as a magnetar. Based on these figures, the scientists believe that this hypothesis should be revised, as well as the one that maintains that the FRBs would originate from outbursts outside the magnetars, in “Shocks” that would reach the speed of light.
In the future, astronomers believe that instruments such as FAST and new tools currently under development will allow progress on the energy behavior of the radio burstsradio bursts and discover essential information about their physical nature and the central source from which they come. For the moment, these strange cosmic explosions remain a great challenge that tests the limits of scientific knowledge.
A bimodal burst energy distribution of a repeating fast radio burst source. Li, D., Wang, P., Zhu, W.W. et al. Nature (2021).DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03878-5
Photo: Fast radio bursts have puzzled astronomers for more than a decade, but identifying the largest set of these strange signals ever detected in a recent study and using advanced radio telescopes and new instruments could begin to solve the puzzle. Credit: Brenton Pearce on Unsplash.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.