National Radio Astronomy Observatory | 2015 Dec 02
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), brief yet brilliant eruptions of cosmic radio waves, have baffled astronomers since they were first reported nearly a decade ago. Though they appear to come from the distant Universe, none of these enigmatic events has revealed more than the slimmest details about how and where it formed, until now.
- Artist impression of a Fast Radio Burst (FRB) reaching Earth. The colors represent
the burst arriving at different radio wavelengths, with long wavelengths (red)
arriving several seconds after short wavelengths (blue). This delay is called
dispersion and occurs when radio waves travel through cosmic plasma.
Credit: Jingchuan Yu, Beijing Planetarium
By poring over 650 hours of archival data from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT), a team of astronomers uncovered the most detailed record ever of an FRB. Their research indicates that the burst originated inside a highly magnetized region of space, possibly linking it to a recent supernova or the interior of an active star-forming nebula.
"We now know that the energy from this FRB passed through a dense, magnetized region shortly after it formed. This significantly narrows down the source's environment and type of event that triggered the burst," said Kiyoshi Masui, an astronomer with the University of British Columbia and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
Lasting only a fraction of a second yet packing a phenomenal amount of energy, FRBs are brief radio flashes of unknown origin that appear to come from random directions on the sky. Though only a handful have been documented previously, astronomers believe that the observable Universe is rocked by thousands of these events each day. ...
Dense magnetized plasma associated with a fast radio burst - Kiyoshi Masui et al