Mystery radio bursts traced to distant galaxy – A precise source for the first time

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A mysterious type of radio wave from deep space, discovered only a decade ago, has been traced to a precise source for the first time.

So-called fast radio bursts (FRBs) picked up in 2016 by a telescope in New Mexico likely emanated from a dwarf galaxy some three billion light years from Earth.

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A mysterious type of radio wave from deep space, discovered only a decade ago, has been traced to a precise source for the first time scientists reported in the journal Nature.

FRBs flash only for an micro-instant, and can emit as much energy in a millisecond as the Sun does in 10,000 years.

Exactly what causes these high-energy surges of long waves at the far end of the electromagnetic spectrum remains the subject of intense debate.

The new discovery will not settle the issue, but it definitively eliminates several theories that had been in the running, scientists said.

There have been 18 fast radio bursts registered since 2007, but only one — observed in 2012 at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and dubbed FRB 121102 — recurred numerous times.

That prompted a team of scientists led by Shami Chatterjee of Cornell University to prepare in case it happened again.

The idea paid off: in 83 hours of observation over six months, the Karl G. Jansky multi-antenna array of radio telescopes — more powerful that any to have spotted a FRB in the past — detected nine distinct pulses.

“We now know that this particular burst comes from a dwarf galaxy more than three billion light years from Earth,” Chatterjee said in a statement.

The discovery does not answer the core question of what produces these strange emanations that long escaped the notice of professional star-gazers.

“Still, even without a clear answer, the finding is a real game-changer,” said Heino Falcke, an astronomer at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands who was not involved in the research.

– ‘Not in our backyard’ –

Until recently, many experts speculated that FRBs are produced by cataclysmic events such as stars exploding into supernovas, or neutron stars collapsing into black holes.

While it is possible that these one-off scenarios also produce such bursts, all of them are inconsistent with multiple pulses such as those generated by FRB 121102.

mystery radio burst traced to distant galaxy, mystery radio burst news, mystery radio burst update, mystery radio burst source, mystery radio burst precise source
Composite image of FRB 121102, located in a dim and distant host galaxy. Image by Gemini Observatory/AURA/NRC

The new data also dispels another widely discussed possibility, explained Shriharsh Tendulkar, a scientist at McGill University in Montreal.

“Before we knew the distance to any FRBs, several proposed explanations for their origins said they could be coming from within, or near, our own Milky Way,” he said.

Such a close source can now be ruled out — at least in this case.

“It’s not something in our backyard,” said co-author Casey Law, an astronomer at the University of California in Berkeley.

That still leaves plenty of room for speculation.

One of the top candidates, the astronomers suggested, is a neutron star — possibly a type known as a magnetar — surrounded by material ejected by a supernova explosion.

A neutron star — small but extremely dense — is formed by the gravitational collapse of a star not quite massive enough to produce a black hole when it explodes.

A magnetar is a type of neutron star with an extremely powerful magnetic field.

via AFP / Marlowe Hood

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This is fake news just like the supposed Fake Radio Burst (FRB 010724) that was supposed to have come from the constellation of Aquarius and ended up being a microwave burst from a microwave oven in the same facility.
    One has to ask oneself if the generation of ever increasing amounts of powerful microwaves has led to many more of the supposed space ‘discoveries’, since once the microwaves are generated, they bounce off of the upper ‘atmosphere’ and ‘appear’ to be coming from beyond the Earth.
    There is an ever-increasing amount of fake science being disseminated by the Theoretical Science Establishment, so it’s important to be wary of unverifiable claims, particularly when they’re based on other unverifiable claims.
    This sort of stuff makes for interesting reading, but is more often than not, just science fiction stated as fact and utilized to support other science fiction.
    Unfortunately, just like the mountain of fake news we’re constantly exposed to, we’ve also been exposed to a mountain of fake science, which is more insidious than fake news, in that the average sheep believes it’s got to be true because it comes out of the mouth of a scientist.
    What the true believer doesn’t understand is that, when it comes to astrophysics and space travel, the majority of the ‘science’ is based on unproven theory and not fact, with one theory based on another theory.
    Presenting these theories as facts, keeps billions of taxpayer dollars flowing into the organizations running these operations, which can be used to support other nefarious black box agendas.
    Don’t be fooled.
    Cheers

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