Telescope Detects Fast Radio Burst Hitting Earth Every 16 Days

Radio telescope

Radio telescope

Recording periodic activity from the signals, known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), was a first for scientists working to discover the source.

A new study by an global team of scientists led by astronomers at the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project (CHIME/FRB) in British Columbia has discovered that a mystery radio source in a galaxy some 500 million lightyears from our solar system is sending out fast radio bursts like clockwork in 16.35 day cycles, including 1-2 bursts per hour over a four day period and then 12 days of silence before starting up again.

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Astronomers with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Collaboration in Canada observed this cycle for a total of 409 days.

Astronomers all over the world have become increasingly passionate about fast radio bursts (FRBs), an intriguing space mystery that are beyond unpredictable.

FRB 180916.J0158+65 was among the eight repeaters included in last year's haul; apart from its repeat bursts, initially it didn't appear to be anything special. In the study, scientists have suggested that many more FRBs could be repeating, but may have gone undetected.

Astronomers have detected alien signals - that is, signals from a foreign galaxy - being emitted in an unusually regular 16-day cycle. It is being estimated that the galaxy is 500 million lightyears away. Coincidentally, this FRB is actually the closest that's ever been detected.

To understand more about these unusual phenomena, the researchers say they intend to perform more studies in which particular galactic conditions cause the FRBs to occur. The 16.35-day period could be the orbital period, with the FRB object only facing Earth during a certain part of the orbit.

This difference in origin, as well as its repeating nature, is what makes this FRB so special. It could also be a binary system containing a massive star and super-dense stellar core called a neutron star, where signals from the latter are eclipsed by the winds from its enormous companion.

Another published report deduced the FRB rhythm isn't tempered by another object, and is sending out the pulses directly from the source. Scientists have previously said that some glare from highly magnetized neutron stars called magnetars may be the source of FRBs. However, since the magnetons tend to spin every few seconds, the 16-day period does not match this phenomenon.

FRB 180916.J0158+65 is one of the handful of FRBs that have been traced back to a galaxy.

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