The strange signals only last milliseconds, but they generate as much energy as the Sun in an entire day.
Back in March, scientists detected 10 powerful signals — dubbed fast radio bursts (FRB) — coming from the same location in outer space.
In short, scientists are perplexed by FRBs. These bursts, some of the most elusive and powerful signals ever detected, only last milliseconds, but they produce as much energy as the Sun in an entire day.
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Scientists still aren’t entirely sure what causes FRBs, but now, a team of researchers from McGill University has detected six more of these mysterious signals. Writing in The Astrophysical Journal, the researchers note that five of the new radio bursts were detected with the Green Bank Telescope and one with the Arecibo Observatory.
The researchers believe that all 16 of these signals are coming from the same faraway place, named FRB 121102, which could help them zero in on what may be causing the strange energy bursts.
Although the exact location of FRB 121102 remains a mystery, the researchers were tipped off after observing how the lower frequencies of the FRBs were slowed. This tells them that FRB 121102 is located far beyond the Milky Way.
Interestingly, as ScienceAlert explains, this new information on the faraway-sourced FRBs contradicts the evidence we have on an FRB detected in our own galaxy.
Scientists hypothesize that the source of the Milky Way’s FRB is the collision of two neutron stars, which then forms a black hole. Such a cataclysmic collision would produce massive amounts of energy, so researchers have posited that FRBs could be caused by massive blasts of short-lived radio energy from such a cosmic event.
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However, since the distant FRBs have been detected in a repetitive nature, the researchers suspect that the source must be something less dramatic than a massive collision. For instance, they could be coming from an exotic object, like a young neutron star, that has enough power to emit the FRBs regularly.
It’s also possible that there are different types of FRBs with different sources — we still have a lot to learn about these mysterious signals. If we’re lucky, perhaps learning more about these elusive bursts could help us solve some of the other mysteries of our Universe.