Scientists Are Trying To Explain Mysterious Signals Coming From Deep Space

JakeThomas

These deep-space flashes are revealing how little we know about fast radio bursts.

According to Futurism, a team of astronomers has discovered a new “fast radio burst” (FRB) signal consisting of mysterious deep-space flashes of millisecond-wave energy that repeat every 157 days.

  • The signal, called FRB 121102, flares up for a 90 day period and then “goes silent for another 67 days, as detailed in a paper about the discovery published Sunday in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society,” Futurism reported.
  • According to Space.com, FRBs are “extragalactic flashes of light that pack a serious wallop, unleashing in a few milliseconds as much energy as Earth’s sun does in a century.”
  • Scientists first spotted an FRB in 2007, and “the cause of these eruptions remains elusive nearly a decade and a half later; potential explanations range from merging superdense neutron stars to advanced alien civilizations,” the report continued.
  • So far, more than 100 of these mysterious pulses have been discovered.
  • Last month, scientists recorded the “most powerful FRB known to history. It was so intense, in fact, that it could’ve been detectable from another galaxy,” Futurism wrote.
  • The best explanation we have for these repeating pulses is that “they are put out by magnetars, supercharged neutron stars, wobbling around their own axis, movement referred to as ‘precession,’” the report continued. “Others suggest the patterns could be caused by a neutron star orbiting a second star as part of a binary system.”

“This is an exciting result as it is only the second system where we believe we see this modulation in burst activity,” Kaustubh Rajwade, lead author and postdoctoral researcher at The University of Manchester, said in a statement. The discovery “could argue against a precessing neutron star,” since the 157-day cycle is far longer than the first repeater of 16 days.

However, FRBs will remain a mystery for now.

“This exciting discovery highlights how little we know about the origin of FRBs,” Duncan Lorimer, associate dean for research at West Virginia University and co-author of the study, said in the statement. “Further observations of a larger number of FRBs will be needed in order to obtain a clearer picture about these periodic sources and elucidate their origin.”

Read the full report here.

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