Researchers trace Fast Radio Burst back to its origin

Researchers trace Fast Radio Burst back to its origin

An unprecedented detection of a repeating “Fast Radio Burst (FRB)” has allowed astronomers to identify its origin, prompting scientists to reconsider what they believed they knew about FRBs.

FRBs are tremendously powerful flashes of cosmic light, which can be detected from billions of light-years away. In spite of the ferocity of the bursts, these radio emissions are rarely detected because of they are extremely short-lived.

As FRBs last for just a fraction of a second, they are hard to capture, and their origin is even harder to pinpoint.

But a team of international researchers, involving Cees Bassa of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and Shriharsh Tendulkar of McGill University in Montreal, managed to capture a burst of cosmic light as well as trace the burst back to its origin. They archived data from the New South Wales, Australia-based Parkes radio telescope.

"These radio flashes must have enormous amounts of energy to be visible from over 3 billion light-years away," Cornell University researcher Shami Chatterjee said in a statement.

The researchers reported that the burst dubbed FRB 121102, first discovered in 2012, originated from a dwarf galaxy, roughly 3 billion light years away from Earth.

Speaking on the topic, Tendulkar said, “The host galaxy for this FRB appears to be a very humble and unassuming dwarf galaxy, which is less than 1 percent of the mass of our Milky Way galaxy. That’s surprising. One would generally expect most FRBs to come from large galaxies which have the largest numbers of stars and neutron stars…”

The findings were reported in the Jan. 5th edition of the journal Nature and The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

A report published by CNN informed, "In 2012, scientists at Cornell spotted that one signal just three one-thousandths of a second long -- FRB121102 -- was repeating sporadically. There are currently 18 known FRBs, but they were all detected by non-specialist radio telescopes that were unable to narrow down their origin to a precise location, according to researchers at McGill University."

In a report on the issue, BGR added, "A strange burst of radio waves that has puzzled researchers for years has finally been traced to its source, answering one question but generating many, many more. The discovery was made my scientists at Cornell University along with astronomers from around the world. Now it’s up to science to help explain why the radio bursts exist in the first place, and what it could mean."