Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are very energetic, fleeting radio signals (they only last a few milliseconds), which are supposed to come from deep space. They emit as much energy in one millisecond as the Sun in 10,000 years. Yet, their origin remains unknown to scientists. The detection of these repeated signals could nevertheless help us to see a little more clearly.
There are lights in the universe that we do not see. They come from collapsing stars, magnetic fields, or voracious black holes. Current technology allows us to understand these events, but space still holds many some surprises: fast radio bursts (or bursts) as example. In a few milliseconds, these signals pierce the Universe with as much energy as one hundred million suns. Some, on the way, cross our planet. We have “captured” several (about sixty since 2007), but often unique. Several weeks ago, however, 13 new bursts were detected within two months. And among them, a FRB flashed repeatedly six times in a row.
“Until now there was only one FRB repeated each time,” says Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist at the University of British Columbia (Canada) and lead author of the study published in Nature. With more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic enigmas – where they come from and what causes them. ”
Detected from the hills of British Columbia, these repeated signals appear to be coming from a source estimated at about 1.5 billion light-years. But where can they come from?
Several theories have already been advanced. Some have suggested that it may be remnants of distant supernovae (exploding stars) or radiation emitted by supermassive black holes feeding on them. Others, like Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Center (USA), also consider “artificial origins” like the impulses of an alien spacecraft. Regarding this signal repeated six times, the hypothesis of the supernova can now be excluded (that’s pretty much the only thing we’re sure of). If this were the case, the burts of this exploding star should have occurred only once.
We also know that these 13 detected radio bursts had a much lower frequency than the other bursts recorded so far (400 megahertz, against 700 megahertz previously). These are simply the lowest frequencies recorded so far for such signals. Other bursts could be emitted at lower frequencies, but if this were the case, our current telescopes would not be able to detect them (400 megahertz is the limit).
Despite the relative scarcity of recorded FRBs, these signals could eventually be more regular than we think. Thousands could even discreetly reach us each day. If we want to apprehend them one day, then it will probably be necessary to think and build even more sensitive instruments.
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