Scientists Trace Fast Radio Burst to Nearby Galaxy

Another Piece of the Puzzle? Mysterious Radio Signal From Space Detected

Scientists Trace Fast Radio Burst to Nearby Galaxy

Astronomers have found a mysterious signal originating from a nearby galaxy that looks very similar to our own galaxy. "This blurs the differences between repeating and non-repeating fast radio bursts".

"This object's location is radically different from that of not only the previously located repeating FRB, but also all previously studied FRBs, "said astronomer Kenzie Nimmo of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands". "FRBs may be made in a large zoo from locations across the universe and only certain conditions need to be visible". The university has been studying fast radio bursts since 2007.

Pinpointing these fast-radio bursts is very hard because they only last for a few milliseconds and could originate anywhere in the sky. But in that time, they can discharge more energy than 500 million Suns. Fast radio bursts are designated as "FRB YYMMDD". These are impossible to predict, which makes them extremely hard to trace - to date, only three have had their origin localised to a galaxy. Scientists have only managed to identify 4 signals and this newest one brings the total to 5.

Half a billion light-years from Earth, the so-called "FRB 180916" explosion is expected to allow further work to solve the mysteries behind the rapid radio explosions.

Using a technique known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), the researchers achieved a level of resolution high enough to localize the FRB to a region approximately seven light years across-a feat comparable to an individual on Earth being able to distinguish a person on the Moon. We've been able to detect these powerful blasts of radio energy from distant locations in space, but nobody really knows for sure what causes them.

And that led them to a normal spiral galaxy called SDSS J015800.28+654253.0.

In a paper in Nature, the scientists wrote: 'Fast radio bursts are brief, bright, extragalactic radio flashes.

According to the researchers, it is a hard task to estimate the size, mass, and shape of the galaxy from within, as the Milky Way Galaxy is surrounded by a layer of interstellar gases and the occluding stars.

The source of the newly-detected FRB was localized to an active region of star formation in a near-by massive spiral galaxy, much like our Milky Way. While 500 million light years might seem far away by Earth standards, it is the closest known source of of this odd phenomena. "This discovery was the first piece of the puzzle, but it also raised more questions than were resolved, such as whether there was a fundamental difference between repeating and non-repeating FRBs. Now, we have localized a second repeating FRB, which challenges our previous ideas on what the source of these bursts could be". Astrophysicists have suggested they may emerge from supernovae, magnetars, or even one-way extraterrestrial communication, though the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute dismisses that as unlikely. The researchers, however, designed a model after gathering information from various sources which helped in understanding the movement of gases, stars and other materials around the galaxy. "Whereas FRB 121102 had an associated persistent radio source-which has been hypothesized to represent a surrounding nebula or nearby black hole-we see no such source near FRB 180916".

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