Astronomers reveal new – and puzzling – features of mysterious fast radio bursts

Astronomers reveal new - and puzzling - features of mysterious fast radio bursts

Technical rendering of the 5 Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in China. Credit score: Jingchuan Yu

Quick radio bursts (FRBs) are millisecond-long cosmic explosions that every produce vitality equal to the annual output of the Solar. Greater than 15 years after electromagnetic radio wave pulses had been first detected in deep area, their bewildering nature continues to shock scientists — and newly printed analysis deepens the thriller surrounding them.

Within the September 21 problem of the journal mood naturesudden new observations of a sequence of quick cosmic radio bursts by a world staff of scientists — together with UNLV astrophysicist Bing Zhang — difficult the prevailing understanding of the bodily nature and central driver of FRBs.

Cosmic FRB observations had been made in late spring 2021 utilizing the 5 Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in China. The staff led by Heng Xu, Kejia Lee and Subo Dong of Peking College and Weiwei Zhu of the Nationwide Astronomical Observatories in China, together with Zhang, detected 1,863 blasts in 82 hours over 54 days from an lively quick radio burst supply referred to as FRB 20201124a.

“That is the most important pattern of FRB information with polarization info from a single supply,” Lee instructed me.

Current observations of the quick radio burst from our Milky Method recommend that it originated from a magnetar, a dense, city-sized neutron star with an extremely sturdy magnetic subject. Alternatively, the origin of distant cosmic quick radio bursts continues to be unknown. Current observations go away scientists questioning what they assume they learn about them.

“These observations introduced us again to the drafting board,” mentioned Zhang, who can also be the founding director of UNLV’s Nevada Heart for Astrophysics. “FRBs are clearly extra mysterious than we imagined. Extra multi-wavelength observational campaigns are wanted to disclose the character of these items.”

What makes the current observations shocking to scientists are the irregular and brief variations of the so-called “Faraday spin scale,” the magnetic subject power and particle density within the neighborhood of the FRB supply. Variations went up and down throughout the first 36 days of monitoring and stopped abruptly for the final 18 days earlier than the supply was extinguished.

“I liken it to a movie taking pictures of the FRB supply setting, and our movie revealed a posh, dynamically evolving magneto-environment that had by no means been imagined earlier than,” Zhang mentioned. “Such an setting shouldn’t be instantly predictable for an remoted magnetar. There could also be one thing else close to the FRB engine, presumably a binary companion,” Zhang added.

To watch the FRB host galaxy, the staff additionally used the 10-meter Keck telescopes positioned on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Zhang says he thinks younger magnetars dwell within the lively star-forming areas of the star-forming galaxy, however the optical picture of the host galaxy unexpectedly reveals that the host galaxy is a barred, metallic spiral galaxy like our Milky Method. . The FRB web site is positioned in an space the place there is no such thing as a important star-forming exercise.

“This location is inconsistent with a younger centromagnetic drive fashioned throughout an intense explosion similar to an extended gamma-ray burst or ultra-bright supernova, that are extensively anticipated predecessors to energetic FRBs,” Dong mentioned.

The research, “Supply of a Quick Radio Burst in a Advanced Magnetized Web site in a Tight Galaxy,” appeared Sept. 21 within the journal. mood nature It options 74 co-authors from 30 establishments. Along with UNLV, Peking College, and the Nationwide Astronomical Observatories of China, collaborating establishments additionally embody the Purple Mountain Observatory, the College of Yunnan, the College of California at Berkeley, the California Institute of Know-how, Princeton College, the College of Hawaii, and different establishments from China, the US, Australia, Germany and Israel.


Astronomers uncover clues that reveal the key of quick radio bursts


extra info:
H. Xu et al., A quick radio burst supply at a posh magnetized web site in a slender galaxy, mood nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-022-05071-8

Supplied by College of Nevada, Las Vegas

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