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Mysterious Radio Signal Found Coming From Inside Our Galaxy

by : Hannah Smith on : 04 Nov 2020 17:58
Mysterious Radio Signal Coming From Inside Our GalaxyMysterious Radio Signal Coming From Inside Our GalaxyPA

Earlier this year, scientists were mystified when a powerful burst of radio waves was detected from an unknown source. Now, scientists have confirmed the burst came from somewhere within our own galaxy.

Since they were first observed less than a decade ago, the intense emission of waves, known as Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), have fascinated and confused scientists in equal measure. Only a handful of FRBs, which last just a fraction of a second, have ever been detected, and researchers have been at a loss to explain how they’re caused.

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Until now, that is.

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Reports earlier this year suggested an FRB had been detected from a source somewhere in the Milky Way. Since that initial report, three studies published in the journal Nature have said the latest FRB came from a magnetar – a highly magnetic type of neutron star about 30,000 light years from Earth.

According to one of the papers, the magnetar released the burst for less than a millisecond. The FRB in question had a similar energy profile to ones we’ve seen before, but scientists were particularly excited by this one due to how close to Earth it originated.

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While these studies may have solved the question of the source of FRBs, why they happen is still unclear. Some have suggested that other events giving off high levels of energy, such as gamma-ray bursts, may also cause related FRBs.

Whatever the cause, identifying the source of this closest FRB is an important step in allowing scientists to understanding these uniquely intense bursts of radio waves.

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Professor Kiyoshi Masui, who led the analysis of the burst, said:

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There’s this great mystery as to what would produce these great outbursts of energy, which until now we’ve seen coming from halfway across the universe.

This is the first time we’ve been able to tie one of these exotic fast radio bursts to a single astrophysical object.

The researchers linked the FRB to the magnetar after observing the star blasting bursts of X-rays. According to IFLScience, for the FRB and X-Ray bursts to be occurring in the same area of space, but not to be connected, would be highly unlikely, leading scientists to conclude the magnetar was responsible for both.

Incredibly, this nearby FRB contained 3,000 times more energy than any other radio pulse ever detected in the Milky Way, although it was still 30 times weaker than the weakest FRB detected outside the galaxy.

So no aliens this time, unfortunately.

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Topics: Science, galaxy, Milky Way, Tech

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IFL Science
  1. IFL Science

    First Fast Radio Burst Confirmed To Have Come From Inside The Milky Way