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Space & Astronomy

Mystery radio burst picked up in our own galaxy

By T.K. Randall
May 5, 2020 · Comment icon 4 comments

Could a magnetar be responsible for the burst ? Image Credit: ESO / L. Calcada
For the first time, astronomers have picked up a fast radio burst within the confines of the Milky Way.
Fast radio bursts, which last mere milliseconds yet generate as much energy as the Sun does in an entire day, have remained something of an enigma since their discovery back in 2007.

Previous examples of these enigmatic phenomena have all been detected in distant parts of the universe, but now astronomers using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) radio telescope have found the first example originating from within our own galaxy.

Not only that, but they believe that they may have actually identified its source.

The key lay in the detection of a series of gamma-ray bursts by an independent observatory that appeared to be coming from the same place as the newly detected fast radio burst.
The point of origin - a type of neutron star known as a magnetar due to its very strong magnetic field - is situated 30,000 light years away and is known to produce periodic bursts of gamma rays.

The only problem is, nobody has ever observed fast radio bursts coming from objects like this before and it remains unclear exactly what mechanism could be responsible for producing them.

One possibility is that it could be due to what are known as starquakes - which occur when the intense gravity and magnetic field of the star build up tension that is suddenly released.

As things stand however, it is unclear if this is what produced the fast radio burst in this case.

Source: | Comments (4)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by jbondo 4 years ago
Boy, those pesky starquakes can really be disruptive. Good thing we don't have Tim McCarver announcing them.
Comment icon #2 Posted by bison 4 years ago
The additional information from the new Earth-Sky article makes it clear that the gamma and x rays were not simultaneous with the radio burst, but occurred the previous day.  The colorful graph of time vs. radio frequency shows a curiously  regular pattern of the strongest radio emissions. These appear to occur at approximately regular frequency intervals of 40 MegaHertz, plus or minus 10 MHz, over the range of 500 to 800 MHz.
Comment icon #3 Posted by micahc 4 years ago
A clear channel station was able to tune the signal in.   seems to be a signal that bounced back.  
Comment icon #4 Posted by bison 4 years ago
I see that the link to the EarthSky article on this new FRB no longer appears on the headlines page. This is the one to which I refered in my last post here.  Odd, regular distribution of radio emissions at approximate 40 MegaHertz intervals between 400 and 800 MHZ, as examined by the CHIME radio telescope in British Columbia. I am linking to the article, below. Perhaps this fairly regular 40 MHz distribution  is an artifact of the observation process, perhaps not. No mention of it made in the article.

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