New Fast Radio Burst Source Roars Every 16 Days

in science •  5 months ago 

The new source of Fast Radio Bursts named FRB 180916.J0158+65 yells at us in a roughly 16-day long cycle. In a really weird 16 days long cycle. It is almost as if someone was making fun out of us!


Image by Sandra Wagner from Pixabay

Mysterious FRBs

If you take all we so far know about Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) that can be regularly found in the important scientific media all over the world you will eventually get the feeling that these things are just having a laugh at our expense. Seriously. Every new discovery about these “Freakishly Rascal Bolts” is incredible, interesting, unexpected, and seriously does not help us to figure out the main question – what the heck is the source of FRBs?!

Now we have a new, incredible, interesting, and unexpected result of research performed by a large team that was led by Canadian experts that discovered a source of FRBs that have roughly a 16-day long cycle. And as usual, it didn't solve the mystery.

What Are FRBs?

Let us quickly repeat what exactly FRBs are. They are short and very powerful cries that can be heard on radio-waves. Usually, they seem pretty random making them hard to even find let alone study. And they are quite a new thing in astrophysics – the first was detected in 2007. We haven't heard that many FRBs since. So far we knew only one source that was giving them out repeatedly. Nonetheless even it was irregular – the legendary FRB 121102. Now for the first time ever it seems we have found an FRB source that repeats regularly.

A large team of researchers initially studied data from a radio telescope in British Columbia on which the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) When they found a source of FRB is the data they went back over 400 past observations. In the end, they found out that the source that was given the name FRB 180916.J0158+65 sends out FRBs in a regular cycle. Well, a strange regular cycle.

The length of the strange cycle is 16.35 of a day on Earth. During the first days of this cycle, FRB 180916.J0158+65 cries out once every hour (roughly). And then silence. After 12 Earthly days, it stars crying out again in the same way. Can you even imagine a naturally occurring object that could and would do something like that? Obviously, there has to be something like that but our current knowledge just doesn't know about such an object.

While the cycle is really weird the most likely possibility is that it is an object that itself orbits another object. Or at the very least is rotating. But, such a characteristic fits the majority of objects that can be found out there in the Universe. The researchers at least succeeded in tracking down the object into a spiral galaxy that is about 500 million light-years away from us. Hopefully, future technologies will be able to tell us more about the source of the FRBs.


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