Astronomers Hint On The Origin Of Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts

Posted: Dec 3 2015, 12:04am CST | by , Updated: Dec 3 2015, 8:04pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Astronomers Hint on the Origin of Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts
An artistic impression of Fast Radio Burst reaching Earth. Credit: JINGCHUAN YU, BEIJING PLANETARIUM

The perplexing phenomenon may be a supernova remnant or a star forming nebula, study suggests.

For the first time, astronomers are able to provide an explanation about the perplexing phenomenon known as Fast Radio Bursts. These mysterious blasts of radio waves appear randomly in the sky and last merely few milliseconds.

Researchers were unable to figure out what these mysterious bursts actually are and why they occur. But now, a new study uncovers some crucial clues about the origin of the bursts. It suggests that blazing blasts can be supernova remain, a star transforming into nebula or a dense interior of a galaxy.

“We know that the energy from this particular burst passed through a dense magnetized field shortly after it formed," said Kiyoshi Masui, an astronomer associated with the University of British Columbia in Canada and lead author of the study.

“This significantly narrows down the source’s environment and type of event that triggered the burst and means the source of the pulse likely resides within a star forming nebula or the remnant of supernova.”

The mysterious blasts have baffled astronomers ever since they have been detected. Fast radio bursts or FRBs occur too frequently almost thousands race through the sky each day.  The newly identified fast radio burst dubbed FRB 110523 found around six billion light-years from Earth and was detected using data-mining software, which enabled astronomers to identify it quickly within the mess of data collected by observatories. 

“Hidden within an incredibly massive dataset, we found a very peculiar signal, one that matched all the known characterizes of a Fast Radio Burst, but with a tantalizing extra element that we simply have never seen before.”

Thorough analysis helped astronomers to determine its relative location. The blast passed through two distinct regions of ionized gas, called screens, on its way to the Earth. The strongest screen was very close to burst’s birthplace, within a hundred thousand light years away, indicating either a nebula is surrounding the source of burst or it is in a center of a galaxy.

“Taken together, these remarkable data reveal more about an FRB than we have ever seen before and give us important constraints on these mysterious events.” Masui said.

Researchers are utilizing many other advanced tools to understand the true nature of this astrophysical event.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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