Astronomers have detected a radio signal from the Milky Way. The signal obtained is called fast radio burst, which lasts milliseconds and comes from deep in space.
The radio signal being so brief, it was only identified after being recorded in the satellite data. Scientists are currently trying to understand where these signals come from.
It is not the first time that satellites have received radio signals from space. The first FRBs were identified over a decade ago. Theories of their sources include cataclysmic events, particularly when two neutron stars collide or a black hole collapses.
However, these assumptions were rejected when another FRB was detected. Scientists say a black hole can only collapse once, suggesting that the source could be something else.
An international group of scientists has come together over the years to solve the mystery of FRBs. Over the years, new cases of FRB have occurred. Earlier this year, a group of experts traced a FRB to a strange V-shaped star formation region in a vast spiral galaxy half a billion light years away.
The last detection was revealed in The astronomer’s telegram, saying that the radiant radio came from the active magnetar known as SGR 1935 + 2154. It is a type of neutron star, the collapsed nucleus of a massive star that would have an irresistible magnetic field.
The information was gathered on Tuesday. Scientists will first need to study the burst and validate their results. If they prove correct, they say it would be the first FRB ever detected from our own galaxy.
So far, other researchers studying the FRB have welcomed the results. Jason W. T. Hessels, senior scientist at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, described the discovery as a “breakthrough” for the field.
Hessels said that the possibility of the magnetars exploding behind certain FRBs is being seriously considered. However, he says there remains a key question. Do all FRBs come from bright magnetars, or do they come from a variety of different origins?
Hessels also mentioned how interesting it was that a burst of X-rays was detected at the same location. He says it helps show how the burst released a lot of energy.
According to him, this helps scientists understand what really happened to the neutron star and its magnetosphere.
Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center and principal investigator of Breakthrough Listen, described the results as “very exciting”. He said that one of the crucial questions regarding FRBs is what generates them. He said that if the results turn out to be correct, it would be “solid proof” that some FRBs come from magnetars.
Siemion said the link between the magnetars and the occurrence of FRB would still raise critical questions. Some of them would wonder why only certain magnetars produce FRB and what gives rise to the repetition observed in specific sources of FRB. Another question that remains unanswered is whether there is a possibility of a second or third source of single pulse FRB independent of the magnetar model.
Answering these questions will require more comments, but knowing that sources like SGR 1935 + 2134 can produce radio pulses of light provides a clue as to where scientists should look, he said.