Astronomers Detect Elusive Fast Radio Bursts From A Nearby Spiral Galaxy

Pablo Tucker
January 9, 2020

Astronomers have pinpointed the location of a repeating fast radio burst first detected by Canada's CHIME telescope in British Columbia in 2018.

According to Sarah Burke-Spolaor, assistant professor of physics and astronomy and co-author on a new paper in Nature said that identifying the host galaxy is very important for understanding the fast-radio bursts.

It's a location unlike any of the others, and astronomers are having to rethink their previous assumptions about how these signals are generated. The FRBs are emanating from a region that's alive with star formation, located at seven light-years across. "It may be that FRBs are produced in a large zoo of locations across the Universe and just require some specific conditions to be visible".

There are two principal kinds of swift radio bursts described Kshitij Aggarwal a physics graduate student.

Then a year ago, scientists announced that the CHIME experiment in Canada had detected a massive eight new repeating FRBs, bringing the number of known repeaters to a total of 10.


An worldwide team of astronomers used eight telescopes participating in the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network to conduct follow-up observations in the direction of FRB 180916.

Astronomers have tracked down the signal for five hours, and that led them to a typical spiral galaxy dubbed SDSS J015800.28+654253.0.

At half-a-billion light years from Earth, the source of FRB 180916 is around seven times closer than the only other repeating burst researchers have localized, and more than 10 times closer than any of the few non-repeating FRBs scientists have managed to pinpoint. He told the Daily Mail that what's interesting about the repeating bursts "is that it is in the arm of a Milky Way-like spiral galaxy, and is the closest to Earth thus far localized".

The online publication that we mentioned above notes that the new repeating FRB is known as 180916.J0158+65.

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.


This particular burst existed in a radically different environment from previous studies, as the first repeating burst was discovered in a tiny "dwarf" galaxy that contained metals and formed stars, Burke-Spolaor said.

"This discovery represented the first piece of the puzzle but it also raised more questions than it solved, such as whether there was a fundamental difference between repeating and non-repeating FRBs". Yes, even the idea that "extraterrestrial beings" are trying to greet intelligent civilizations from all over the cosmos has been suggested, but for now we have to wait, listen to more, and dream of what is actually behind the incredible explosions of energy. But they apparently don't know what's causing it, even after a decade of research.

This research has not answered that burning question, but it could be starting to help rule out what it isn't.

However, the source of FRB 180916.J0158+65 - which lies roughly 500 million light-years from Earth - was unexpected and shows that FRB's may not be linked to a particular type of galaxy or environment, deepening this astronomical mystery [4].


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