Astronomers have made a significant breakthrough in the study of fast radio bursts (FRBs), a phenomenon that has puzzled scientists for over a decade. A team of researchers from McGill University in Canada has discovered 25 new sources of repeating FRBs, bringing the total number of confirmed FRB sources to 50. The discovery is a major step forward in unraveling the mystery of these explosions in the sky that come from far beyond the Milky Way.
FRBs are bright flashes of radio waves that last just a few milliseconds and originate from distant galaxies billions of light-years away. The bursts are incredibly powerful, emitting as much energy in a fraction of a second as the sun does in an entire day. Their origin has been a topic of much debate and speculation since they were first detected in 2007.
The latest study, published in The Astrophysical Journal, used the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope to detect the new FRB sources. The CHIME telescope is unique in that it can survey large areas of the sky quickly and with high sensitivity, making it an ideal tool for detecting these elusive signals.
According to the researchers, the discovery of 25 new FRB sources is a significant step towards understanding the origins of these mysterious phenomena. “We have more than doubled the known sample of FRBs in a single publication, which is very exciting,” said Dr. Emmanuel Fonseca, a postdoctoral researcher at McGill University and lead author of the study. “With this new data, we hope to unravel the mystery of what causes these powerful bursts of radio waves from outer space.”
One theory is that FRBs are caused by highly magnetized neutron stars called magnetars. Magnetars are thought to be the strongest magnets in the universe, with magnetic fields trillions of times stronger than those on Earth. When the magnetic field of a magnetar interacts with its rapidly rotating core, it can produce a burst of radio waves.
Another theory is that FRBs are the result of a cataclysmic event, such as the collision of two neutron stars or the collapse of a massive star into a black hole. These events could generate a burst of energy that would be strong enough to be detected across vast distances.
Despite the discovery of 25 new sources of FRBs, the researchers are still a long way from understanding the true nature of these mysterious signals. “There is still much work to be done to fully understand the physics behind FRBs,” said Dr. Fonseca. “But this discovery brings us one step closer to unraveling the mystery.”
The discovery of 25 new sources of FRBs is a testament to the power of modern telescopes and the ingenuity of scientists working to unravel the mysteries of the universe. With each new discovery, we move closer to understanding the origins of these powerful explosions in the sky, and to unlocking the secrets of the cosmos.