Researchers say they have detected a new, unusual radio signal from afar. galaxy.
This signal is known as a fast radio burst or FRB. These signals impulses radio waves, which scientists say could come from places within our own Milky Way galaxy or others.
The first FRB was discovered in 2007. Since then, hundreds of signals have been observed by large telescopes in different parts of the world.
Astronomers are not sure what causes FRB. But they suggested that the signals could be produced by neutron stars. A neutron star is thought to form after the gravitational collapse of a larger star that explodes at the end of its life.
Researchers reporting on the latest FRB say it was unusual because the signal lasted much longer than others have observed. Most FRBs only last a few milliseconds. But the new signal lasted up to three seconds, about 1,000 seconds longer, the team said in a statement.
The new FRB was first discovered in December 2019 by a radio telescope called the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME. The telescope is located near the southwestern Canadian city of Caleden. Several Canadian and American universities support the project.
CHIME was designed to observe radio waves emitted from hydrogen gas in distant galaxies. But the telescope’s operators say it’s also good at picking up FRB signals.
Scientists say they believe the signal came from a distant galaxy several billion light-years from Earth. A light year is the distance that light travels in one year, about nine trillion kilometers.
The researchers said the recently observed FRB was also unusual because it seemed to repeat a continuous sample, “like a beating heart.” Most FRBs seen in the past typically lasted a few milliseconds before disappearing.
Daniele Michilli postdoctoral PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He helped direct research at the university’s Institute of Astrophysics and Space Research. Kavli. He says there aren’t many things in the universe that emit the “periodic signals” that a telescope can see.
This led the team to believe that the unusual FRB could come from two types of neutron stars, a pulsar or a magnetar. A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star. A magnetar is a neutron star with a very strong a magnetic field. “We think that this new signal could be a magnetar or a pulsar on steroidsMichilli said.
Them conclusion about where the signal came from was based on data collected about pulsars and magnetars observed in our own galaxy. However, the team noted that the unusual FRB appears to be more than a million times brighter than those seen in the Milky Way. Scientists aren’t sure why the FRB could be so much brighter.
The astronomers said the new signal is the longest and has the clearest periodic pattern of any FRBs seen before. They hope to get more observations of the signal. This could help them better understand where it came from and learn more about the general nature of neutron stars.
“This detection raises the question of what could be causing this extreme signal that we’ve never seen before, and how we can use this signal to study the universe,” Michilli said. “Telescopes of the future promise to detect thousands of FRBs per month, at which point we may be able to detect many more of these periodic signals.”
I’m Brian Lynn.
Brian Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English based on reports from MIT News, Nature.
Words in this story
galaxy – n. a very large group of stars united in the universe
pulse – n. a brief increase in the amount of electricity, light, or sound
sample – n. the regular and repetitive way in which something happens
conclusion – n. reasoned decision
steroid drug – n. a drug used to treat injuries that some athletes illegally use to improve their athletic performance.
discover – in. discover or notice something
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