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The mysterious, repetitive fast radio blast acts like a celestial glide whistle

The mysterious, repetitive fast radio blast acts like a celestial glide whistle

Seth Shostak/SETI Institute

The unusual frequency of the recurring fast radio burst was detected by the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek Radio Observatory in California.

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Fast radio bursts, or bright, millisecond flashes of radio waves in space, are one of the universe’s most enduring mysteries — and they’re getting a little weird.

The first fast radio burst, or FRB, was detected in 2007, and since then, hundreds of these fast and intense events have been detected coming from distant points across the universe. In a thousandth of a second, the bursts can generate as much energy as the Sun produces in a year or more, according to Previous search.

But astronomers don’t understand what causes it.

Now, scientists have noticed a strange, never-before-seen pattern in a newly observed recurring fast radio burst called FRB 20220912A. A study published on Wednesday in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Details of the discovery, which provides valuable clues to researchers aiming to pinpoint the source of the phenomenon while offering new mysteries to unravel.

Astronomers detected the explosion using the California-based SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array, or ATA, which includes 42 antennas at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory in the Cascade Mountains.

The team detected 35 fast radio pulses from a single source over a two-month period.

Many FRBs emit radio waves that last only a few milliseconds at most before disappearing, making FRBs difficult to observe. but It is known that some radio bursts are repeated And the subsequent firing of bursts allowed astronomers to do this Track signals to distant galaxies.

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At first, FRB 20220912A looked similar to other known “repeaters,” and each detected burst shifted from higher to lower frequencies.

But a closer look at the signal revealed something new: a noticeable drop in the center frequency of the explosions, which acts like a celestial glide whistle.

The decrease became more pronounced when the researchers converted the signals into sounds using musical notes on a xylophone. The high notes correspond to the beginning of the beats, while the low notes act as a closing note.

The team tried to determine whether there was a pattern within the timings between each explosion, similar to some other patterns Known repetitive fast radio bursts. But researchers were unable to detect a single one for FRB 20220912A, which also suggests that celestial events can be unpredictable as well.

“This work is exciting because it provides confirmation of known FRB properties and the discovery of some new ones,” said lead study author Dr. Sofia Shaikh, from the National Science Foundation. MPS-Ascending A postdoctoral fellow at the SETI Institute, in a statement.

Each observation of fast radio bursts brings insights as well as more questions, the researchers said.

Astronomers suspect that some fast radio bursts may originate from… Magnetic starsThe strongly magnetized cores of dead stars. But other research has suggested that collisions between dense neutron stars or dead stars called white dwarfs may be to blame.

“We are working to narrow down the source of fast radio bursts to extreme objects such as magnetars, but there is no existing model that can explain all the properties observed so far,” Sheikh said.

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This study was the first to detect fast radio bursts using the Allen Telescope array, which has undergone renovation in the past few years. Continued upgrades to the array will not only allow astronomers to track how fast radio bursts behave at different frequencies, but will also allow them to search for faint signals.

“This work proves that new telescopes with unique capabilities, like ATA, can provide a new angle on the outstanding mysteries of fast radio bursts,” Sheikh said.