Fast radio bursts are perhaps the most mysterious astrophysical phenomenon of the new century. Their research began just over a decade ago when in 2007 Duncan Lorimer and his colleagues announced the discovery of the first very powerful, but short (a few milliseconds) radio burst that came “out of nowhere.”
That is, as it was almost half a century ago with cosmic gamma-ray bursts, the flare was no longer observed in any range of the spectrum, and in addition, it was not possible to accurately localize what it was associated with.
It took nearly a decade before astrophysicists were able to confirm the cosmological origin of fast radio bursts but now, we hear news about newly detected signals literally every month. The source of these FRBs remains unclear.
Older theories suggested that they could either come from neutron stars or black holes. In 2020, several studies reached the conclusion that certain fast radio bursts originate from magnetars but this may not be the same for all such signals.
Now, a Chinese team of scientists has reported the most incredible find – three fast radio bursts from the early periods of the Universe. The FRBs were discovered in data from the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) and have been proven to be at least several billion years old.
Based on the data obtained by FAST from 2020 alone, scientists suggest that with more focused observations, there may be more than 120,000 FRBS that we could intercept every single day. Can you imagine what scientists could do with such knowledge and what mysteries of the universe may be solved?
Scientists discover three fast radio bursts from the early Universe
The three fast radio bursts were intercepted in October and November 2018 but as with all scientific data, it normally takes years before experts could study it and find the important pieces.
It is interesting that one of these FRBs was captured on the same date (October 17, 2018) as two other FRBs that have already been reported but in order to be distinguished, the new discovery has been given its own name FRB 181017.J0036+11.
Based on the scientific data, researchers believe that the three fast radio bursts did not originate from the Milky Way. Scientists spent several hours in follow-up observations but no additional bursts were detected, unlike other cases when a powerful FRB is followed up by several weaker ones. There is an option that these FRBs may not have a cosmological origin but based on their characteristics, scientists believe that there is no other explanation.
For now, the origin of these fast radio bursts remains a mystery. Scientists plan to search for more signals in the FAST’s data, hoping that other FRBs may give them the necessary information to locate the source. With the current capabilities of FAST, together with the use of simulations, the telescope should be able to detect ancient fast radio bursts up to 10 billion years old.
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• Niu, C., Li, D., Luo, R., Wang, W., Yao, J., Zhang, B., . . . Zhang, X. (2021, February 21). Crafts for fast radio bursts extending the dispersion-fluence relation with new frbs detected by fast.
• Yuan, L. (n.d.). FAST Captures Distant Fast Radio Bursts from the Youth of Universe.