In 2007, scientists at the University of West Virginia first identified an unusual intense burst of radio waves from outer space. Since then, these fast radio bursts, or FRBs, have been a mystery to astronomers.
They only knew that FRBs are impulses radio waves and that FRBs come from places in our galaxy, the Milky Way and other galaxies.
Recently however, researchers have identified an FRB which was first discovered in 2019 with the world’s largest parabolic antenna radio telescope, called FAST. It is in Guizhou province in China. The FRB has been further studied using the VLA telescope in the state of New Mexico in the United States. The FRB is in a very small galaxy, nearly 3 billion light-years from Earth. A light year is the distance traveled by light in one year.
Scientists think extreme objects can release these fast radio bursts. These objects could include unusual types of stars such as a neutron star. A neutron star is the center of a large star at the end of its life cycle which explodes into supernova. Another is a magnetar, which is a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field. And another possible cause of an FRB is a black hole eat a nearby star.
Casey Law is an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology. He was co-author of a recent 2019 study FRB which was published in Nature. He said FRBs are fast flashes of radio energy that go on and off for only a millisecond. They can be observed across the universe. Some objects produce a storm of repeated FRBs, and some only erupt once.
FRB 2019 is repeating itself. Weaker radio signals continue between bursts, so it always seems “on”. More known The FRBs, almost 500, do not repeat themselves.
Astronomers believe that the FRB described in the Nature the study is only at the beginning of its life. It is still surrounded by thick material from the supernova explosion that created a neutron star. Scientists suspect that the repeated bursts come from younger FRBs.
Di Li is the chief scientist of the FAST Telescope and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. He co-wrote the Nature study. He said: “We always call fast radio bursts a cosmic mystery and rightly so.
Although FRBs are not yet fully understood, the new repeating FRB may help scientists discover the cause of radio bursts. Years ago, scientists faced a similar mystery with gamma-ray bursts. These events are now thought to result from the death of very large stars, or neutron stars or magnetars joining together to form a black hole.
But researchers still have a lot to learn about FRBs.
“We know more and more about phenomenonwhere the springs live, how often they erupt… However, we are still looking for that golden measure that will give us a definitive response to what causes them,” Law said.
I am Faith Pirlo.
Will Dunham wrote this article for Reuters. Faith Pirlo adapted it to learn English.
words in this story
astronomer -not. a scientist who studies stars, planets and objects in space
impulse – nm a short increase in an amount of electricity, light, or sound
light year – nm the distance traveled by light in one year, approximately 9.5 trillion kilometers
supernova – nm a star that exploded, sharply increasing its brightness for a while
black hole – not. a very dense area in space where the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape
cosmic – adj.. of or relating to the universe or outer space
phenomenon – nm an interesting event or occurrence that can be observed and studied and is not easily explained or understood
definitive – adj. clear, secure and unlikely to change
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