Astronomers have detected a strange radio signal coming from another galaxy, nearly 3 billion light-years away from Earth. This is the second time ever that such a repeating signal was detected by scientists.
Researchers detected a new Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), known as FRB 20190520B. The researchers noted that the signal was “co-located with a compact, persistent radio source and associated with a dwarf host galaxy of high specific-star-formation.” The observations were published in the science journal Nature.
The FRB was detected using the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in Guizhou, China, in May 2019. Additional observations recorded nearly 75 more FRBs in a five-month period in 2020. The signal was then localized using the US National Science Foundation’s Karl G Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).
Observations revealed that the emitting object was also responsible for emitting smaller, weaker radio bursts between the FRBs. These characteristics mark the signal from FRB 20190520B as being extremely similar to the very first FRB which was located in 2016, FRB 12110.
Scientists are not sure about what causes FRBs but they have theorized that the FRB is newborn and that it is emitting the signals as it is still surrounded by the “dense material ejected by the supernova explosion that left behind the neutron star.” Under the ‘newborn’ theory, it is expected that the signals will gradually weaken as the FRB gets older.
“The FRB field is moving very fast right now and new discoveries are coming out monthly. However, big questions still remain, and this object is giving us challenging clues about those questions,” said Sarah Burke-Spolaor, co-author of the study.
Over a dozen FRBs have been localized before, five of which include repeating sources of FRBs. These discoveries, hastened by technological advances in radio telemetry and astronomy, allow scientists to slowly piece together more information about cosmic events like the death of massive and super-massive stars, and the merging of neutron stars and magnetars.