Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mysterious cosmic radio bursts found to repeat

03.03.2016

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, Germany, has discovered the first source of repeating bursts of radio waves which is located well beyond our Milky Way galaxy. Fast radio bursts (FRBs), lasting just a few thousandths of a second, have puzzled scientists since they were first reported nearly a decade ago. The findings indicate that these “fast radio bursts” come from an extremely powerful object which occasionally produces multiple bursts in under a minute. Their results are published in this week’s online edition of Nature.

“We’ve never before seen any FRB repeat, but to be sure we continued to monitor a previously discovered FRB over many months,” says Laura Spitler, lead author of the new paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the MPIfR. The observations were performed with the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico – the world’s largest radio telescope with a diameter of 305 meters.


The 305-m Arecibo telescope, the first telescope to see repeat FRB bursts from the same source.

Danielle Futselaar


The initially discovered “Burst 1” and 10 new bursts seen from the fast radio burst source FRB 121102. The bursts are shown as a function of radio observing frequency.

Paul Scholz (Fig. 2 in Spitler et al., Nature)

Until now most theories about the origin of these mysterious pulses have involved cataclysmic incidents that destroy their source – a star exploding in a supernova, for example, or a neutron star collapsing into a black hole. That changed last November, when McGill University PhD student Paul Scholz was sifting through results from these monitoring observations and found 10 more bursts. “The repeat signals were surprising – and very exciting,” Scholz says. “I knew immediately that the discovery would be extremely important in the study of FRBs.”

This finding suggests that these bursts must have come from an exotic object, such as a rotating neutron star having unprecedented power that enables the emission of extremely bright pulses, the researchers say. It is also possible that the finding represents the first discovery of a sub-class of the cosmic FRB population.

“Not only does this source repeat, but the brightness and spectra of the bursts also differs from those of other FRBs,” notes Laura Spitler. Additional evidence for multiple classes of FRBs also comes from a study to be published soon in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, which reports on the first FRBs with two peaks, found using the Parkes radio telescope in Australia. “The emission of two pulses separated by only a few thousandths of a second is most easily explained by extreme flaring in a neutron star,” explains Dr. David Champion, an astronomer at the MPIfR and the lead author of this study.

Intriguingly, the most likely implication of the new Arecibo finding – that the repeating FRB originates from a young extragalactic neutron star – is seemingly at odds with the results of a study published last week in Nature by another research team, where Bonn researchers were also involved. That paper suggested FRBs are related to cataclysmic events, such as short gamma-ray bursts, which cannot generate repeat events. Both findings together strongly imply that there are at least two different kinds of FRB sources.

In the future, the team hopes to learn more about the source through observations at other wavelength regimes. “We are going to compare our radio observations with observations from optical and X-ray telescopes,” says Jason Hessels, associate professor at the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy as well as corresponding author of the Nature paper. “It’s an exciting time for FRB studies. You can learn something new with almost every new source”, he concludes.


Scientists from Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy involved in this research were Laura Spitler, the first author, Paulo Freire, Patrick Lazarus and Weiwei Zhu.

The Arecibo Observatory is operated by SRI International under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (AST-1100968), and in alliance with Ana G. Méndez-Universidad Metropolitana, and the Universities Space Research Association.

The research was supported by grants from the European Research Council, the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada, and the American National Science Foundation.

Original Paper:

“A repeating fast radio burst”, by L. G. Spitler, P. Scholz, J. W. T. Hessels, S. Bogdanov, A. Brazier, F. Camilo, S. Chatterjee, J. M. Cordes, F. Crawford, J. Deneva, R. D. Ferdman, P. C. C. Freire, V. M. Kaspi, P. Lazarus, R. Lynch, E. C. Madsen, M. A. McLaughlin, C. Patel, S. M. Ransom, A. Seymour, I. H. Stairs, B. W. Stappers, J. van Leeuwen & W. W. Zhu. Published in Nature on 03 March 2016 (embargoed until 02 March 2016, 19:00 CET)

Local Contact:

Dr. Laura Spitler
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Fon: +49 228 525-314
E-mail: lspitler@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Dr. David Champion
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Fon: +49 228 525-315
E-mail: dchampion@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Dr. Norbert Junkes,
Press and Public Outreach
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Bonn.
Fon: +49 228 525-399
E-mail: njunkes@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/pressreleases/2016/5

Norbert Junkes | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark

nachricht Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>