- A Chinese telescope was being used to watch over a Fast Radio Burst from an unknown source known as FRB 121102.
- The FRB 121102 emits unknown signals in a fraction of a few milliseconds which repeats itself every 67 days.
- So far, 1652 such signals of FRB 121102 have been identified and scientists are digging deeper into their hypothesis regarding the same.
The cosmos stretching for miles beyond our recognition has indeed an uncountable number of things to offer, especially when it comes to mysteries. The huge void has forever been one of the prime subjects filled with the necessary amount of mystery and has baffled scientists for centuries. When we talk about the mysteries related to the universe, nothing could be more tantalizing than Fast Radio Bursts (FRB). Fast Radio Bursts are one of the greatest cosmic riddles of our time and scientists have brainstormed for decades to try and find more about their source. Recently scientists have discovered almost 1652 radio signals being transmitted from just one source in the past forty-seven days. This huge number of the consequent radio bursts has shaken the scientific world and the ones involved claim a huge consequence that could be very well on its way and change the face of modern astronomy.
What are Fast Radio Bursts (FRB)?
In Radio Astronomy a Fast Radio Burst denotes a transient radio pulse of a certain time length normally ranging from a fraction of a millisecond to a few milliseconds. The source of this radio pulse is believed to be a high-energy astrophysical process that our scientists haven’t clearly understood yet. Interestingly, astronomers estimate the average FRB outputs as much energy in a millisecond as the Sun emits out in 3 days. However even though these radio bursts are hugely energetic at their source, the strength of the signal reaching Earth has been described as 1,000 times less than from a mobile phone on the Moon.
The first FRB was detected in the early 2000s. It was described by Duncan Lorimer and his student David Narkevic as disappearing in a flash and is known as the Lorimer Burst. However, in 2016 an incident changed the whole scenario surrounding Fast Radio Bursts. AnFRB which was detected in 2012 was seen to repeat itself periodically several times over the period of about 4 years till around 2016. This incident itself goes on to suggest that the cause for said radio bursts could be more than just destructive explosions. Again in 2018 one Fast Radio Burst which was detected was successfully traced back to the spiral arms of a galaxy that was almost 500 million light-years away from our planet.
Now the most interesting theory that surfaces regularly about these FRBs is the theories given by different scientists to explain their source. From colliding black holes to spaceships owned by extraterrestrial beings – nothing can be ruled out. The cosmos continues to hide its mysteries and people have been trying to figure out what exactly could be the reason sadly to no avail.
Significance of the particular FRB in question
A huge 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio telescope in China was used to watch over the FRB 121102. Initially, the total number of FRBs previously recorded from here was a mere 349. This statistic changed drastically during the observations made during the period between August 29 to October 29, 2019.
The number of FRBs recorded was a staggering 1652. Professors and scientists claim that this is the largest sample of bursts from one FRB source ever. These FRBs have enabled scientists to characterize the radio bursts like never before. This discovery has complicated the search for a source even more despite reducing the number of possibilities. With more information available the scientists can study the patterns better but along with it comes a lot of other unanswered questions and even some unasked ones.
Key features of the FRB 121102
Due to its complex characteristics, this particular Fast Radio Burst has scientists utterly intrigued. They have been successful to a certain extent to have been able to jot down some key features about it. One of the most interesting ones is the lack of any periodicity or quasi periodicity. This indicates that there is no pattern in the repeating signals hence no single source such as pulsar could be identified as the possible reason.
Another key feature is that this FRB has inactivity of 67 days after a certain period of activity. It is also known that this FRB comes from a dwarf galaxy which is located in the star-forming region of space. Scientists have figured this source galaxy to be somewhere around 3 billion light-years away. Scientists have also claimed that since FRB 121102 is treated as a representative of active repeaters, these implications are thought to be true for all repeaters. Although more studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis