It was back in March that 10 fast radio burst signals were originally detected coming from outside of our galaxy and now, excitingly, six further radio signals have just been detected. Fast radio bursts may last only milliseconds, but they astonishingly produce just as much energy as the sun would in an entire day. However, scientists are still unaware of what causes these fast radio bursts.
Science Alert reports that in the past, these particular radio signals were thought to be just “one-off events,” which came from various locations in space. And as there was no real pattern to them, scientists were unable to determine what had caused them.
If you’re wondering why scientists still haven’t grasped what is behind these fast radio bursts, it is because they were just discovered in 2007. Also, they aren’t terribly uncommon. Scientists say that there are around 2,000 of them “firing across the Universe each day.” This changed with the discovery of 10 repeated radio signals that occurred back in March, and also when scientists were able to witness these events happening in real time.
However, now that 16 of these radio signals have been heard from the exact same place, scientists might finally be able to discover what is causing these fast radio bursts.
While the first batch of 10 fast radio bursts located in the same region outside of our galaxy may have been detected in March, in reality they actually happened back in May and June of the year 2015. But they were the first time that scientists had ever noticed that there was a repeating pattern to these fast radio bursts, and they were different to anything that scientists had ever witnessed before.
The six newest fast burst radio signals that have just been detected by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico all occurred within 10 seconds. After that, four more of these signals were discovered during the month, and all were located in the same place. When scientists started looking over the data they had, they also found another radio signal dating back to 2012 coming from the same location as well. This now made 11 different signals in total that were coming from the same place in space.
— The Conversation (@ConversationUK) November 18, 2016
After the new discovery of six further radio signals, scientists from McGill University in Canada wrote about their recent findings in The Astrophysical Journal.
“We report on radio and X-ray observations of the only known repeating fast radio burst source, FRB 121102. We have detected six additional radio bursts from this source: five with the Green Bank Telescope at 2 GHz, and one at 1.4 GHz with the Arecibo Observatory, for a total of 17 bursts from this source.”
Right now, scientists are unable to determine the exact location of FRB 121102, but they are able to tell that they come from outside of the Milky Way. These radio signals are also found to contradict what we know so far about fast radio bursts that occur within our own galaxy. What do we think is causing these signals in our galaxy? It is thought that it could be the collision of two neutron stars when they form a black hole. This is thought to be because when the two neutron stars collide, you get massive amounts of radio energy sent out into space.
However, since these fast radio bursts coming from outside of our galaxy have been repeated and all come from the same place, the collision of two neutron stars can’t be the reason for them, according to scientists studying this phenomenon.
“Whether FRB 121102 is a unique object in the currently known sample of FRBs, or all FRBs are capable of repeating, its characterisation is extremely important to understanding fast extragalactic radio transients.”
So, what is happening with these radio signals that are located outside of our galaxy? Scientists aren’t sure just yet, but the latest discovery of these six fast radio burst signals all coming from the same location has scientists on the move to pinpoint their exact cause as well as location.
[Featured Image by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]