Astronomers have come close to understanding the cause of the fast radio bursts by tracing five signals back to their source.
Scientists are one step closer to unraveling one of the most intriguing cosmic mysteries of recent times – Fast Radio Bursts (FRB). The team has traced the five signals to their points of origin in the spiral arms of galaxies, narrowing down the list of objects that cause them.
Fast radio bursts are single radio pulses recorded by radio telescopes with a duration of several milliseconds of an unknown nature.
What exactly causes them remains a mystery. Hypotheses range from mundane (possibly produced by supernovae or massive collisions) to unusual (they appear as a result of the decay of dark matter or alien technology.
The team of researchers examined the FRB group in more detail using visible light images taken with the Hubble Wide Field Camera 3. They combined them with images in the ultraviolet and near infrared range. As a result, scientists have traced the five not only to their native galaxies, but also to specific locations within these galaxies – the spiral arms.
As you know, these regions are associated with star formation. But, interestingly, radio bursts do not come from the brightest and most active parts of the arms. This gives even more clues about their origins.
The new information lends weight to the current leading hypothesis that FRBs are associated with magnetars, dense neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields. In fact, last year a signal suspiciously similar to FRB was received from a magnetar in our galaxy.