Astronomers Detect Repeating Fast Radio Bursts For The First Time

Posted: Mar 3 2016, 8:49pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Astronomers Discover Repeating Fast Radio Bursts for the First Time
Credit: Danielle Futselaar

Researchers suggest that there may be a new kind of fast radio burst and that they might have originated from an extremely exotic object.

Recently astronomers have tracked down the location of a fast radio burst and thought that they have solved a longstanding mystery that kept scientists’ perplexed over the years. It appears that the cosmic hunt is not over yet. It has got a surprising new twist. 

A team of international researchers has found a new kind of radio bursts from space that keep repeating, indicating that these flashers come from an extremely powerful object that produces multiple intense bursts of radio waves in a minute.

Previous research suggests that fast radio bursts are a once in a blue moon event and they appear across the sky in the form of an occasional single flash.

The Arecibo Observatory has captured its first fast radio burst in 2014. Until now, it has never been known to repeat. 

The new research, however, raises questions about the source of fast radio bursts and points to the fact FRBs are not produced from a same source. At least, some of them have other origins. 

“Not only these bursts repeat, but their brightness and spectra also differ from those of other FRBs.” Lead researcher Laura Spitler from Max Planck Institute in Germany said.

The repeating radio bursts have been observed through Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, which is the largest radio telescope in the world right now.  The observational data was run through a supercomputer at McGill High Performance Computer Center, where researchers have detected several bursts with properties similar to that FRB spotted in 2012. There were a total of 10 new bursts.

Researchers suggest that these bursts might be originated from a rotating neutron star which emits extremely bright pulses or they could be a subclass of fast radio bursts population. 

Next, researchers are aiming to identify the exact location of the mysterious repeating radio bursts. Researchers will likely utilize National Science Foundation’s dish that extends 305 meters and covers about 20 acres for the purpose. The dish has got more resolving power than Arecibo.

“Once we have precisely localized the repeater’s position on the sky, we will be able to compare observations from optical and X-ray telescopes and see if there is a galaxy there,” said co-author John Hessels, professor at University of Amsterdam. “Finding the host galaxy of this source is critical to understanding its properties.”

Will we find aliens in that host galaxy? Who knows, but we will not be able to get there unless the aliens operate a space uber.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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