The Cause of One of the Most Intriguing Phenomena in the Universe Has Been Discovered

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The origin of one of the most mysterious phenomena in the universe is becoming clearer. The phenomenon is a burst of repetitive rapid radio (FRB), which emits intense radio waves lasting milliseconds. Only 24 FRBs were observed and only this, FRB 121102, has been repeated.


The fact that he keeps repeating allowed astronomers to study this event like no other FRB. They were able to confidently place their origin within the star-forming region of a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light years from Earth. Researchers have also discovered that a neutron star would probably cause it, and now, thanks to new observations, an international team of researchers has narrowed down to just a few hypotheses.

As reported in the journal Nature, the FRB 121102 is caused by a neutron star surrounded by a strong magnetic field. Researchers suggest that this field could be created by a massive material coming from a black hole or by a wind magnetized inside a nebula or supernova remnant. This hypothesis comes from observations that suggest that the radio emission was polarized due to the magnetic field. Magnetic fields can twist light emissions and the stronger the field, the greater the torseness.

"The only known sources in the Milky Way that are twisted as far as FRB 121102 are in the center of the Galaxy, which is a dynamic region near a massive black hole. Perhaps the FRB 121102 is in a similar environment in its host galaxy,” said Daniele Michilli, the study's lead author. "However, the torsion of radio bursts can also be explained if the source is located in a powerful nebula or a remnant of supernova," he concluded.

This new understanding of the source comes from the combination of observations at the Arecibo Observatory and observations at even greater frequencies from the Breakthrough Listen project at the Green Bank Telescope.

"The polarization properties and shapes of these bursts are similar to the radio emission of young and energetic neutron stars in our galaxy," added co-author Andrew Seymour of the Arecibo Observatory. "This provides support for models that radio blasts are produced by a neutron star," he said.

The team will continue to monitor FRB 121102 with the hope of determining which scenario is most likely the black hole or highly magnetized nebula.

"If we study the properties of this source in more detail (for example, trying to observe higher resolution, see if it is changing brightness over time, whether it is another polarized source, etc.), we can expect to conclude whether it represents a black hole or a nebula, "said Jason Hessels, lead author.

The FRB 121102 is a single radio explosion, but this research may allow us to better understand all FRBs. [ IFLS ]

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