New theory: some fast radio bursts could be the result of collapsing alien worlds near neutron stars.
What is a fast radio burst?
Fast radio bursts were discovered only in 2007 and since then, astronomers have theorized about multiple sources for these mysterious signals.
The first burst, like most of the subsequent ones, was detected during the processing of archival data from the telescope from the Parkes Observatory in Australia. This 64-meter antenna is intended primarily for the study of radio pulsars. The burst was designated FRB 010724, where FRB is Fast radio burst and 010724 is the date: July 24, 2001.
The second event was reported only in 2012. Therefore, theorists did not rush to build models. The situation changed in the summer of 2013 when scientists reported four new outbreaks at once. Everyone understood that the matter was serious.
Theories: black holes, white dwarfs, neutron stars, and aliens
Over the course of several months, theorists have proposed a couple of dozen models to explain fast radio bursts. There were merging white dwarfs, evaporating black holes, unusual binary systems, and single compact objects that asteroids fall on. Not forgetting, of course, aliens.
But the most realistic models have involved neutron stars. We know that these objects emit short radio bursts. We know that in a burst, neutron stars can release tremendous energy in a fraction of a second.
An important milestone was the discovery of the source FRB121102. This was the first burst discovered on a 300-meter antenna in Arecibo (Puerto Rico). Further observations showed that new bursts are coming from the source. And a lot – hundreds! It became clear that FRB was a repeating signal and not a one-time cosmic disaster, for example.
That is, this is not the evaporation of a black hole, not the formation of a quark star, not some kind of supernova, not a merger of neutron stars, and so on. Models with young neutron stars finally came to the fore.
Fast Radio Bursts could be the result of interaction between planets and host stars
A scientific team recently published the results of new computer calculations that suggest a brand new point of origin. The hypothesis predicts that FRBs could be the result of planets that are being destroyed by their nearby host stars.
Imagine that a planet’s orbit makes it pass dangerously close to the star in the system. The “tidal pull” influenced by gravity when the planet is at its closest point practically tears it apart.
Now imagine how clumps of that planet interact with the extreme radiation of the neutron star. Scientists assume that this interaction could produce powerful radio emissions.
Moreover, this hypothesis, if proven, could explain the occurrence of “repeater” fast radio bursts. There are multiple such that have been discovered already. For example, one such signal repeats every 160 days.
In some repeating bursts, the strength of the subsequent signals decreased and others became completely undetectable. This is another aspect that could be explained with the new theory as the gravitational pull of neutron stars could influence the orbit of the planet.
Overall, scientists have to observe the known repeating signals in order to find potential disruptions in time and power. For now, this is one of the multiple hypotheses about the source and origin of fast radio bursts and the evidence is not conclusive.
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• Al-Sibai, N. (2022, April 18). Planets scream as they’re ripped apart, scientists say. Futurism.
• Kruesi, L. (2022, April 15). Crumbling planets might trigger repeating fast radio bursts. Science News.
• Kurban, A., Huang, Y.-F., & Geng, J.-J. (2022, March 29). Periodic Repeating Fast Radio Bursts: Interaction between a Magnetized Neutron Star and Its Planet in an Eccentric Orbit. The Astrophysical Journal.