Scientists Are Getting Closer to the Source of the Mysterious FRB Signals

Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society this Wednesday traced a repeating fast radio burst to a star formation in a dim dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years away.

The conclusion was the high energy beam from the star cluster had been twisted by a powerful magnetic field within dense clouds of hot, ionized gas. When the radio waves pass through the magnetic field, they are twisted in such a way known as the Faraday rotation. The stronger the magnetic field, the greater the twist and the degree that was recorded for the latest FRB detections became the largest ever measured in a radio source.

Source: CNET

Source of the FRB Signals

The conclusion assisted in providing more information about the environment that the radio bursts originate. However, scientists are still confused over what would be able to cause such an energy surge. Cornell University astronomer Shami Chatterjee called it a mystery but welcomes the chance at a good mystery. The FRB had originally been discovered in 2007 within the archived section of the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia. The objective at the time was new examples of magnetized neutron stars known as pulsars though a radio burst from 2001 became the most interesting find.

Since then, 18 FRBs have been discovered. There is still a lot of mystery about their attributes spawned different explanations such as black holes or even aliens. There is only one of the sources of radio a burst of energy which has occurred more than once and it was cataloged, the FRB 121102. It has since sent out an estimated 150 flashes since it was discovered in 2012.

Magnetic Fields and Neutron Star Provide Hypothesis

Observations done by a number of strong telescopes working on a range of wavelengths captured even more bursts and the result included interesting characteristics from the flashbulb. Among the quirks included a dramatic twist in the polarization of the signal or the plan the waves oscillate. According to Daniel Michili, from the University of Amsterdam, the only sources in the Milky Way which have the same intensity as FRB121102 are within the center of the galaxy. This is a dynamic region which is near a huge black hole, thus adding to the theories that black holes have something to do with these phenomena.

Source: CNET

The other explanation on the source of the FRB is it is surrounded by highly magnetized material that acts as a cocoon. It could be the fog of gas and dust from which the stars would form or the detritus created by a star at the time of its explosion. The proximity of the magnetized fog and debris would possibly produce a rotation measure of such a level.

Another theory is the FRB came from an environment of numerous newborn stars. The top hypothesis at this time though is the presence of a neutron star at the source of the FRB. They are compact enough to produce short and focused signals which are attributes of the FRB. Similarly, the fact the source throws out short bursts from 30 microseconds to 9 milliseconds is concurrent with the theory the source is about 6 miles across which is typical for a neutron star.

Current research shows FRBs are actually more common and there are 10,000 FRB signals in each part of the sky on any given day. The next thing would be to ascertain whether the bursts have their own periodicity or intervals when they recur.