ASTRON: Peering into the Lair of a Mysterious Cosmic Radio Burst

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ASTRON: Peering into the Lair of a Mysterious Cosmic Radio Burst

Post by bystander » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:35 pm

Astronomers Peer into the Lair of a Mysterious Cosmic Radio Burst
Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) | 2018 Jan 10
Nature Cover 11 Jan 2018.jpg
The cover shows the William E. Gordon Telescope at the
Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Jason Hessels and his
colleagues used the telescope in their attempt to clarify the
physical nature of the only known source of repeating fast
radio bursts. Image Design: Danielle Futselaar; Photo
Usage: Brian P. Irwin/Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

An international team of astronomers has used two of the world's largest radio telescopes to show that a mysterious source of radio bursts is in an astonishingly extreme and unusual environment. This discovery suggests that the strange source is in the close vicinity of a massive black hole, or within a nebula of unprecedented power. The team presented their findings at the American Astronomical Society's winter meeting (#AAS231) in Washington, DC. The results appear on the cover of the January 11th edition of Nature.

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are a recently discovered type of astrophysical signal coming from deep in extragalactic space. Their physical origin remains a mystery. Using data from the Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, and the Green Bank Telescope, West Virginia, astronomers have now shown that the radio bursts from the source FRB 121102 have a property known as polarization. The behavior of this polarized light allows them to probe the source’s environment in a new way and to `peer into the lair’ of the mysterious burster.

Polarized light is likely familiar to anyone who has used polarized sunglasses to cut down on the glare of sunlight reflected off water. If polarized radio waves travel through a region with a magnetic field, the polarization gets ”twisted” by an effect known as Faraday rotation: the stronger the magnetic field, the greater the twisting. The amount of twisting observed in FRB 121102’s radio bursts is among the largest ever measured in a radio source, and the researchers conclude that the bursts are passing through an exceptionally strong magnetic field in a dense plasma (a hot, ionized gas). ...

Astronomers Peer into the Lair of a Mysterious Source of Cosmic Radio Bursts
Universities Space Research Association (USRA) | 2018 Jan 10

Astronomers Peer into the Lair of a Mysterious Source of Cosmic Radio Bursts
Green Bank Observatory (GBO) | 2018 Jan 10

A Repeating Fast Radio Burst from an Extreme Environment
McGill University | 2018 Jan 10

A Repeating Fast Radio Burst in an Extreme Environment
Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) | 2018 Jan 10

SETI Project Homes In on Strange 'Fast Radio Bursts'
University of California, Berkeley | Breakthrough Listen | 2018 Jan 10

Across the Universe, Fast Radio Bursts ‘Shout and Twist’
Cornell University | 2018 Jan 10

Mystery funders of Arecibo radio telescope can celebrate an early success
Nature Editorials | 2018 Jan 10

An extreme magneto-ionic environment associated with the fast radio burst source FRB 121102 - D. Michilli et al
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