Astronomers have detected a mysterious rapid and repeated radio explosion

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are explosions of radio waves in space lasting milliseconds. Individual radio explosions are broadcast only once and are not repeated. But it is well known that fast radio explosions that are repeated send short and energetic radio waves several times.

Astronomers have been able to track some radio explosions to their home galaxies, but have not yet been able to determine the true cause of the pulses. Learning more about the origin of these bright and intense radio broadcasts could help scientists understand what causes them, according to CNN.

Astronomers detected the object, called FRB 190520, when it released a radio explosion on May 20, 2019. Researchers used the five-hundred-meter spherical radio telescope, or FAST, in China, and discovered the explosion in the telescope’s data. in November 2019. When they made tracking observations, astronomers noticed something unusual, the object emitted frequent and repeated explosions from radio waves.

In 2020, the team used the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, or VLA, telescopes of the National Science Foundation to identify the source of the explosion before locating it with the Hawaii Subaru Telescope. Subaru’s observations in visible light showed that the explosion came from the periphery of a distant dwarf galaxy.

A study detailing the findings was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

The latest findings raise many questions, as astronomers are now wondering if there might be two types of fast radio explosions. “Are those that are repeated different from those that are not repeated? What happens to persistent radio broadcasting, is that common?Kshitij Aggarwal, co-author of the study, who was involved in the study as a doctoral student at the University of West Virginia, said in a statement.

There may be different mechanisms that cause radio explosions or that what produces them behaves differently at different stages of evolution.

Scientists have previously hypothesized that fast radio explosions are caused by dense debris left behind by a supernova called neutron stars, or by neutron stars with incredibly strong magnetic fields called magnets.

FRB 190520 is considered a possible “newborn” object because it was located in a dense environment, Law said. This environment can be caused by the material released by a supernova, which led to the creation of a neutron star. As this material spreads over time, explosions from FRB 190520 may decrease as it ages.

Next, Li wants to discover more fast radio explosions. “A coherent picture of the origin and evolution of FRBs is likely to emerge in just a few years”said Li.

Law is excited about the implications of a new class of radio sources.

“For decades, astronomers thought that there were practically two types of radio sources we could see in other galaxies: supermassive black holes of accretion and the formation of stars.”said Law. “Now we say that it can no longer be a categorization of the type” either one or the other “! There is a new child in the city and we should take this into account when studying the populations of radio sources in the universe. “

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