• September 24, 2022

NSF Reports Mysterious Radio Burst in Space

radio burst in space

Astronomers capture strange radio bursts from space using powerful telescopes. Credit: B. Saxton NRAO/AUI/NSF

The discovery of the second known highly active, repeating fast radio burst in space, or FRB, by astronomers using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, or VLA, as well as other powerful telescopes, raises more questions about the nature of these little-understood objects and the role they play in the space between galaxies.

The source of the radio waves is an object that may be found on the periphery of a dwarf galaxy known as FRB 190520, which is approximately 2.9 billion light-years from Earth. Observations with the VLA revealed that the object consistently emits radio waves of a lower frequency between its more regular bursts.

Casey Law, one of the authors of the research, stated that “these qualities make this appear a lot like the very first FRB whose position was selected — likewise by the VLA — back in 2016,” and he was referring to the very first FRB’s position being determined by the VLA. Because there are now two of us, several important questions have arisen.

The variances between the two FRBs now recognized provide evidence that there may be more than one kind of FRB. FRB 121102 is the only other known FRB; however, FRB 190520 has recurring bursts, and its emissions are weaker and more persistent than FRB 121102. This suggests that FRB 190520 might be a different kind of FRB, or the two entities might be at different stages in their lifecycles.

According to calculations based on the distance between Earth and FRB 190520, the object of this radio burst in space is about three billion light-years from our planet. The bursts coming from the object, on the other hand, suggest that the distance is probably closer to 9 billion light-years.

“This means that there is a lot of material near the FRB that would confuse any attempt to use it to measure the gas between galaxies,” said Kshitij Aggarwal, one of the paper’s authors. “Any attempt to use it to measure the gas that is between galaxies would be fruitless.” If this is the case with other people, we cannot rely on FRBs to serve as cosmic yardsticks.

The researchers had a theory that as FRB 190520 matures, the dense material that surrounds it will disperse, which will result in a decrease in the strength of the signals.

News: NSF

 
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