A group of astronomers in the earlier 2020 sensed powerful fast radio bursts coming from space. It was unprecedented and not that the scientists were looking forward to it. After a series of critical observations, they were able to find out that the radio waves were coming from a mighty object in space. However, they were coming from within our galaxy! It was the first time that scientists were detecting such mysterious radio waves from inside of our galaxy.
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs)
After a lot of speculation and confusion, the scientists were able to pinpoint the exact source of these radio waves – it was an unbelievably powerful star roaming around in the Milky Way. The radio waves are now known as the “fast radio bursts” – or FRBs.
The Star Producing Fast Radio Bursts
The star that was producing fast radio bursts was further studied and observed only to find out that it is known as a neutron star. A neutron star is an object – or a dense left of a massive star that destroys itself and produces a large number of radiations in the form of radio waves.
The Neutro star is also known as a Magnetar. It is because the star is capable of holding a powerful magnetic field within itself. The magnetic field is incredibly strong and can shatter the shapes of atoms, distorting their whole structure.
Investigating the FRBs
It has been a challenging and massive moment for the astronomers and space scientists to figure out the source of these radio waves. They have been very keen on finding out the origins of these mysterious, strong magnetic waves. However, the hindrance was their appearance for just a few milliseconds in the night sky. This made them very difficult to examined and studied.
Moreover, before these FRBs, all the radio waves have been a play of tiny fraction of a second, and the burst usually came from outer space – or outside of our galaxy, if I become more precise. Usually, they were some billion light-years away from Earth – hence, the space telescopes could not quite detect them.
With the magnetar’s discovery, the astronomers have given a much closer look at what’s producing these radio waves. Hence, they have a better chance of playing around and work with them. So far, the astronomers have been able to find out that the magnetar is 30 thousand light-years away from us. If I speak in cosmic language, I would say – it’s just in our backyard.
Discovering the FBRs
Ever since the discovery of the first FRB in 2007, astronomers have been trying to find out the origins and pinpoint the location of these sources. However, the fast radio bursts are so rapid that spotting them requires a lot of effort with a combination of looking to the right place at the right time with the best equipment you have at the moment.
Luckily, the efforts paid off, and the astronomers found some of the burst repeating themselves and flashing over and over again in a particular part of the sky. Hence, these recurrent burst paved the way for the scientist to locate the areas that were emitting those radio waves.
Despite the location and the places from where the radio waves are originating, the scientists are still unable to find out that which objects within our milky way are producing these incredibly magnetic and powerful radio waves.
The Story Behind Discovery of FRBs
Two different observatories in North America, CHIME in Canada and STARE 2 in the US, were able to detect the fast radio bursts coming from a certain part of the sky. Hence, coming from different observatories – the signals were considered credible. Moreover, the FRBs were very intense and bright. In fact, you won’t believe it, but they were so strong that even a standard cellphone receiver could up the signal and sense it.
The intensity mostly owed to the fact that the burst’s timing and location occurred simultaneously with another event happening in the sky – but not too far. Hence, just a few days before the detection of FBR, the astronomers had noticed an unusual magnetar that was pretty active in the sky and emitting X-rays and gamma rays to a more considerable extent.
After analyzing the stats and data from the observatories and studying them with telescopes, astronomers at STARE 2 and CHIME finally verified that the waves from the star superposed with a massive burst of X-rays. Thus, it led to a a greater signal strength.
Mechanics at the Play of Magnetar
We know that magnetars are a sound origin for many FRBs. Hence, the mechanics and the exact processes behind them are still unknown. A few of the space scientists have presented the a productive theory. It states that these might be the dead magnetic stars sending out radio flashes a little after their death. This can be justified provided that the magnetars are so full of energy. And if they lose it altogether – the consequences can be highly destructive. Hence, they release the energy in the forms of burst or different types of waves for a few seconds.
However, the good news is that the scientists have a big ground to look into carefully. This is because we have around 30 known magnetars within and outside our galaxy. They will probably get a lot more attention than before. The astronomers mainly focus on finding the FRBs in other galaxies as well. This is so they can find a better understanding of the subject.
The fast radio bursts (FRBs) are quite a phenomenal event in cosmic studies. It’s super exciting for a beginner to view things through a reflective telescope deeper in the sky. However, the astronomers have gone too far and are dealing with more significant cosmic objects are events. If you are lucky – or once in a blue moon, you can come up with a unique phenomenon as this. It is indeed a great step towards our progress in the cosmic world.