Mysterious radio signals have been a hot topic in astronomy ever since their discovery hinted that space people might be trying to contact Earth people.
Recently, an international team of experts made a breakthrough that could finally provide clues to the source. They say one FRB known as 20190520B likely originates from a binary system on the outskirts of a mineral-poor dwarf galaxy about 3 billion light-years from Earth.
It’s unclear exactly what the source is, raising the possibility that extraterrestrial life may be responsible, but it appears to be coming from a ‘compact object’ next to a massive star with strong stellar winds.
Scientists involved in the new study said the object could be a black hole or a highly magnetized neutron star, known as a magnetar, although neither theory fits perfectly “when all the data is considered”. They came to their conclusion after discovering that the FRB changed its signal twice in a dramatic way during its analysis.
The experts also said the only explanation for this is that the magnetic fields around it must have been reversed by a “turbulent” force. They also believe that to produce something “as messy as a ball of wool” the signal must have passed through the “dense and variable stellar wind of a companion star” relatively close to its source.
Some FRBs appear to be one-time events, which is why it was thought that a cataclysmic explosion such as an intense supernova could be a possible explanation for them. But less than 5% of the observed hundreds are seen repeating, sometimes in a regular pattern.
FRB 20190520B was the first continuously active FRB ever detected. It was the focus of the new study and was analyzed by researchers at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) and West Virginia University using the Parkes Telescope in Australia and the Green Bank Telescope in the United States.
Also, the scientists said in their paper that they detected “turbulent magnetic fields surrounding the recurring FRB”. They added, “This observation indicates that the pulses of radio wave emission may come from a compact object accompanied by a binary companion with strong stellar winds.”
The researchers claim that a neutron star or black hole may be the source, as previously found in binary systems with models that have massive stellar winds. One such example is SS433, which is associated with a supernova-like radio nebula, W50.
However, when all the data was filled out, they said neither theory was well suited, meaning more research was needed.
Described as “brief and mysterious beacons”, FRBs have been spotted in various and distant parts of the universe, as well as in our own galaxy.
As radio waves travel through space, any interstellar gas or plasma along the way can distort or distort the properties of the wave and its path. The degree of scattering of the radio wave can also give clues as to how much gas has passed through it, and possibly how far it has traveled from its source.
Most explosions erupt only once and then are never seen again, which makes them impossible to predict, according to astronomers.
Some of them show repetitive activity, but until recently it was found to be completely random. The existence of a regular sequence in the burst activity could mean that the powerful jets are related to a large-scale cosmic phenomenon.
It can also include the orbital motion of a massive star, a neutron star in a binary system, or a black hole.
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