Scientists have discovered that mysterious radio broadcasts from deep in space repeat themselves in a pattern.
Researchers looking to study fast radio waves, or FRBs, have discovered that a particular program appears to repeat itself in a cycle.
Scientists hope to use the model to better understand the enigmatic explosions. Researchers have been unable to figure out how the explosions could be created, the only certainty being that very short but very powerful explosions must emerge from an unknown and very extreme part of the universe.
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Bursts occur in a window of approximately 90 days, followed by a period of silence of 67 days. The pattern then repeats, leaving a reliable period of 157 days which has been followed for several years.
This long pattern may suggest that the explosions are related to the swirling orbital motion of a massive star, a neutron star, or a black hole.
“This is an exciting result because it is only the second system where we think we see this modulation in burst activity,” said Kaustubh Rajwade of the University of Manchester, who led the new research. “The detection of a periodicity constitutes an important constraint on the origin of the bursts and the activity cycles could argue against a neutron star in precession. ”
Rapid radio explosions were first discovered in 2007 and were initially believed to be the result of a one-time event. Scientists then discovered in 2016 that FRB 121102 was actually repeating itself.
In the latest research, scientists then investigated the source of the FRB using telescopes at Jodrell Bank, which allowed regular monitoring over a long period of time which revealed that the explosion could be seen coming repeatedly when observed for a long time.
“This was based on possible regular monitoring with the Lovell telescope, and non-detections were just as important as detections,” said Benjamin Stappers, who leads the MeerTRAP project to hunt FRBs using the MeerKAT telescope in South Africa, in a statement.
FRB 121102 is just the second known source of FRB to repeat itself this way. The former did so on a much tighter schedule, with a cycle that only lasted 16 days.
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