In 47 days, an international team of astrophysicists detected more than 1.6 thousand fast radio bursts (FRBs) from the same radio source. The researchers’ article was published in the journal Nature.
FRB – radio pulses several milliseconds long, whose energy is comparable to that that the Sun emits for tens of thousands of years. Since their discovery in 2007, astronomers have been busy explaining how and where these mysterious cosmic signals originate, tracking them with powerful radio telescopes. In 2020, the first reliable FRB source was established – a magnetar (a neutron star with a strong magnetic field) in the constellation Chanterelle.
While testing the FAST radio telescope – the world’s largest closed-aperture radio telescope – researchers from China, along with colleagues from Germany and the United States, found that the pulse stream from FRB 121102 – the only known source of repetitive FRBs and the first well-established in space – is increasing in frequency. From August 29 to October 29, 2019, 1,652 radio bursts were recorded with a total duration of almost 60 hours. 122 FRBs were noted once in an hour, the highest frequency for such phenomena.
“The total energy from this set of bursts is 3.8 percent of that available for the magnetar. No periodicity was found between a millisecond and a thousandth of a second. Both of these factors seriously limit the possibility that FRB 121102 is an isolated compact object, ”said Wang Pei, one of the researchers at the National Astronomical Observatory of China.