Astronomers have detected a strange radio signal coming from another galaxy, nearly 3 billion light-years from Earth. This is the second time that such a repetitive signal has been detected by scientists.
The researchers detected a new Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), known as FRB 20190520B. The researchers noted that the signal was “co-localized with a compact and persistent radio source and associated with a specific high-star-forming host dwarf galaxy.” The observations were published in the scientific 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 additional FRBs over a five-month period in 2020. The signal was then located 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 FRBs. These characteristics mark the signal of FRB 20190520B as extremely similar to the very first FRB located in 2016, FRB 12110.
Scientists aren’t sure what causes the FRBs, but they’ve speculated that the FRB is newborn and emits the signals because it’s still surrounded by the “dense material ejected by the explosion of the supernova that left behind the neutron star”. According to the “newborn” theory, the signals are expected to gradually weaken as the FRB ages.
“The FRB field is changing very rapidly right now, and new findings are coming out every month. However, big questions remain, and this object gives us some challenging clues to those questions,” said Sarah Burke-Spolaor, co-author of the study.
Over a dozen FRBs have been located previously, five of which include repeat sources of FRBs. These discoveries, accelerated by technological advances in radio telemetry and astronomy, allow scientists to slowly gather more information about cosmic events like the death of massive and supermassive stars, and the merger of neutron stars and of magnetars.