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New Fed signals ring nearly 2,000 times in just two months, revealing mystery : ScienceAlert

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Across the space-time rift, we have detected a strange new signal.

A repetitive fast radio burst source detected last year was recorded to emit a whopping 1,863 bursts over 82 hours during a total of 91 hours of observation.

This hyperactive behavior causes scientists to It characterizes not only the galaxy that hosts the source and its distance from us, but also what the source is.

Dubbed FRB 20201124A, the object was detected by China’s 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) and described in a new paper led by astronomer Heng Xu from Peking University, China.

So far, most evidence points to magnetars, neutron stars with very strong magnetic fields, as sources of such FRB emissions.

If FRB 20201124A is actually one of these wild space beasts, it looks like a rare specimen.

“These observations really put us back to square one,” said Bing Zhang, an astrophysicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“It’s clear that the FRB is more mysterious than we imagined. Further multi-wavelength observation campaigns are needed to further elucidate the nature of these objects.”

Fast radio bursts have puzzled astronomers since they were first discovered 15 years ago in archived data dating back to 2001.

Since then, more radio waves have been detected. A burst of radio waves lasting milliseconds, releasing 500 million times more power than her in the Sun at that moment.

Most of the recorded eruptions erupted only once, making them difficult to study (let alone understand). Only a handful have been detected as repeats, and they’ve helped scientists at least track the host galaxy.

And in 2020, a breakthrough. A fast radio burst was detected for the first time in the Milky Way, allowing astrophysicists to trace the phenomenon to magnetar activity.

This latest anomalous Fed example is another example of a rare repeater. In less than two months of observation, FRB 20201124A provided astronomers with the largest sample of polarized fast radio burst data of any other FRB source.

Polarization refers to the direction of a light wave in three-dimensional space. By examining how much light changes direction after it leaves the source, scientists can understand the environment through which the light traveled. For example, strong polarization suggests a strong magnetic environment.

Based on the wealth of data provided by FRB 20201124A, astronomers were able to deduce that the source was a magnetar.

But there was something strange. How the polarization changed over time suggested that the strength of the magnetic field and the density of the particles around the magnetar were fluctuating.

“I equate it with filming a film around the Fed source, and our film revealed a complex, dynamically evolving magnetic environment hitherto unimaginable.” Zhang explains.

“Such an environment is not directly expected of an orphaned magnetar. Something else could be near the Fed engine, possibly a binary companion.”

As the data suggest, the companion may be a hot, blue Be-type star, common among neutron star companions. The evidence was compiled in a separate paper led by astronomer Fayin Wang of Nanjing University in China.

But there were other oddities, too.

A type of neutron star, a magnetar is the collapsed core of a massive star that burns out of fuel to provide outward pressure and collapses under its own gravity.

Such stars quickly run out of fuel, have short lives, and eject outer matter in a supernova when the core collapses.

Because their lifespans are so short, these young magnetars are thought to be found in regions where star formation is still occurring. Stars live short lives and die, creating more clouds of matter to produce more stars. It is a beautiful cosmic circle of life.

However, FRB 20201124A was discovered in a galaxy very similar to the Milky Way. There’s not much star formation going on here, so there shouldn’t be a star baby boom even near our insane new his Fed friends.

However, FRB 20201124A is not the only FRB source found in galaxies relatively free of star formation.

This increase in numbers suggests that there is important information that may be lacking in our understanding of Fed magnetars, how they formed and where they are located.

But the characterization of the source means there are new places to look for answers. suggests that it may be one of the best places to look for

Two papers were published in Nature When Nature Communications.