Astronomers from the School of Astronomy and Space Sciences of Nanjing University in China have shown that the source of the fast radio burst FRB 180916.J0158 + 65 can be a pulsar in a binary system with an orbit passing by the asteroid belt. The study is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Fast radio bursts (FRB – Fast Radio Bursts) are called flashes of radio emission lasting several milliseconds. The event FRB 180916.J0158 + 65 is today the closest radio burst to the Earth, which occurred at a distance of 457 million light-years from the Sun in the spiral galaxy SDSS J015800.28 + 654253.0.
In addition, FRB 180916.J0158 + 65 is the first radio burst with a non-strict signal periodicity – it repeats every 16 days with an active phase of about four days. This reduces the range of possible causes of radio bursts since a repeating signal cannot be the result of single events, such as collisions of stars.
Chinese scientists have suggested that a binary system of a pulsar and a body of stellar mass that surrounds the asteroid belt can serve as a signal source. When a pulsar crosses this belt, a collision occurs with asteroids, leading to the release of gravitational energy.
This concept explains the frequency of emissions – a pulsar makes a revolution in orbit in 16 days, four of which it is in the asteroid belt.
Scientists note that thanks to this discovery, astronomers will be able to study extragalactic asteroids since now you can use FRB to detect small objects that cannot be studied in other ways.