Astronomers have announced a surprising discovery – the fast radio pulse, called FRB 121102, not only repeats itself, it repeats itself in a remarkable cycle. For about 67 days, the source of the mysterious signals from space remained silent.
Then, for about 90 days…He woke up again, emitting multiple millisecond radio signals before falling silent again, and the entire 157-day cycle was repeated, BGNES writes.However, the fast radio pulses from space are extremely mysterious and there was no guarantee that the cycle would continue. So the fact that their source was reactivated according to forecasts is quite exciting for scientists.
This suggests that there is considerable benefit in monitoring known sources of fast radio pulses, but also in the ongoing monitoring of FRB 121102 to try to understand what might be causing the phenomenon.
These pulses are radio waves that are very fast, only a few milliseconds long, coming from galaxies millions of billions of light years away. But they are also extremely powerful – within these milliseconds they can release as much energy as hundreds of millions of suns.
Most of the time, the pulse is one-time and no longer triggered, making it impossible to predict and very difficult to track. Experts do not know what causes them, although recent evidence points to a type of neutron star called a magnetar.
But once several repetitive radio pulses have been discovered, this could be one of the keys to helping to solve the mystery, at least in part.
Before their cycle was discovered by Manchester University astronomer Kaustub Rajwade and his team, FRB 121102 was already known as the most active fast radio pulse ever emitted several times since its discovery in 2012. As it repeats itself, astronomers could to monitor its activity and trace it to the source galaxy.
This was the first radio frequency pulse localized to a star-forming region in the Milky Way in a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years away.
The detection of periodicity in his activity – based on data from five years – may place some important limitations on what can cause impulses. For example, high-mass binary systems in the Milky Way – those that contain neutron stars – can have orbital periods of up to hundreds of days. But there are some types of binary systems with much shorter periods – they can be turned off for FRB 121102.
A team led by Marilyn Cruz of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy detected 36 pulses from FRB 121102 using the Effelsberg 100-meter radio telescope between September 2017 and June 2020. Combined with data from Rajave’s research, the team derived periodicity from 161 days, says a new study published in arXiv. This document gives dates between 9 July and 14 October 2020 for the active source period.
But Cruz and her team aren’t the only ones looking. A team led by Pei Wang of the National Observatory of Astronomy in China used a telescope with a diaphragm of 500 meters to monitor the location of FRB 121102 on several dates between March and August 2020. Between mid-March and the end of July, no no broadcasts detected.
However, on August 17th, at least 12 pulses from FRB 121102 were detected. It is assumed that the source is again in the active phase. According to Wang’s team’s calculations, the active phase should end between August 31st and September 9th, 2020.
If FRB 121102 continues to be active after these dates, this may suggest that either the periodicity is not real or that it has somehow evolved, the researchers note in their publication.