Scientists bring home the most powerful fast radio burst and make a strange discovery

Scientists bring home the most powerful fast radio burst and make a strange discovery

While all previous fast radio bursts identified so far have originated in an isolated galaxy, the most distant and powerful radio bursts ever observed by scientists appear to come from a cluster of up to seven galaxies.

This is clear from new observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope. The scientists presented their findings based on these observations at a meeting American Astronomical Society In New Orleans.

FRB 20220610A
Their conclusions revolve around a fast radio burst observed by a radio telescope in Australia on June 10, 2022, and named FRB 20220610A. Radio burst is special for several reasons. First of all, it turns out to be four times more powerful than previously observed fast radio bursts. This is also evident from observations of environmental and social organisations Very large telescope that it must have arisen at an enormous distance from the earth; FRB 20220610A will collapse as the most distant fast radio burst ever observed.

About fast radio bursts
Fast radio bursts are among the brightest in the universe, emitting mainly radio waves. In fact, a single flash contains ten trillion times the annual energy consumption of the entire world's population. However, fast radio bursts are only of short duration. Each flash lasts only a millisecond. Fast radio bursts come in two “flavors”: there are one-time and recurring radio bursts. It's still unclear exactly how these fast radio bursts originate, although the first radio burst was detected in 2007. There are strong indications that magnetars are involved. Magnetars are neutron stars with an extremely strong magnetic field. If you placed such a magnetar halfway between the Moon and Earth, its magnetic field would single-handedly cause the magnetic stripe of all credit cards on Earth to stop working. If an astronaut ventured within a few hundred miles of this magnetar, he would essentially melt, because every atom in his body would be severely disrupted by this magnetic field.

With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers have now been able to determine the origins of the powerful FRB 20220610A, which already traveled a huge distance before scientists discovered it. “It took Hubble's precision and sensitivity to precisely pinpoint the source of the fast radio burst,” said researcher Alexa Gordon. “Without Hubble, it would still be a mystery.”

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Seven galaxies
Hubble observations reveal that FRB 20220610A originated in a strange place. It is in a group of seven galaxies. These galaxies existed when the universe was only five billion years old. It's a rather strange location, because previous fast radio bursts have always seemed to originate in isolated galaxies.

to merge
The seven galaxies in question appear to be moving toward each other in the Hubble images, thus merging with each other. This is interesting, according to scientists. Because you don't see seven merging galaxies very often, such a situation could contribute to the conditions that make the creation of a fast radio burst possible. “Ultimately we are trying to find an answer to the question: What causes them (fast radio bursts, editor)?” said researcher Wen Fei Fong. “What are their ancestors and what are their origins? Hubble’s observations give us a stunning glimpse into the kinds of amazing environments in which these mysterious events can occur.

Magnetar?
As you can read in the box above, the origin of fast radio bursts is still shrouded in mystery. But researchers suspect there's a compact object — such as a black hole or neutron star — behind it. The extreme type of neutron star is the magnetar. Fast radio bursts in our Milky Way Galaxy have previously been traced to such a magnetar; It's a strong indication that these extreme neutron stars have something to do with it. The discovery that fast radio bursts can also originate in a cluster of galaxies seems to further support this, Fung explains. “There are indications that some members of this group (galaxies, editor) are interacting with each other. In other words: they may be exchanging material and appear to be merging with each other. This interaction may lead to more star formation,” Gordon adds. “This suggests that the foreground of FRB 20220610A may be associated with a fairly recent population of stars, which is consistent with what we've learned from other fast radio bursts.” Because when galaxies produce stars at a high rate, they often contain massive stars that are doomed to transform into A magnetic star after a relatively short life.

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However, it is still too early to reach firm conclusions about the origin of fast radio bursts. This requires more research, especially more fast radio bursts. However, researchers are expected to discover these things increasingly, thanks to increasingly better tools. Then it will become clear in what kind of environment they arise, and whether the environment in which they were observed is as special as we now think. It should gradually become clear exactly how fast radio bursts are generated. “We need to find more of these fast radio bursts, both near and far, in many different types of environments,” Gordon concludes.

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