In a distant galaxy, scientists have detected a “strange and persistent” radio signal that sounds like a heartbeat
A “strange and persistent” radio signal that sounded like a heartbeat was found by scientists coming from a distant galaxy. A rapid radio burst, or FRB, which lasted far longer than expected was spotted by astronomers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other locations.
Strong radio wave bursts, called FRBs, often last a few milliseconds. According to a news release, the unique signal lasted up to three seconds, which is 1,000 times longer than usual. Unknown are the astrophysical sources of FRBs.
Over the course of.02 seconds, the signal repeated in a distinct manner that resembled a pulse.
Daniele Michilli, a postdoc at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, described the event as “strange.” “Not only did it endure for around three seconds, but it also had extremely exact periodic peaks that were emitted every fraction of a second, boom, boom, boom, like a heartbeat.” “The signal itself is periodic for the first time at this point.”
The signal originated in a far-off galaxy, many billions of light-years from Earth. The signal has been designated FRB 20191221A by MIT and McGill University researchers who released a paper on it. It is now the longest-lasting FRB discovered so far, with the most distinct periodic pattern.
Since the initial FRB was discovered in 2007, hundreds of additional radio flashes have also been found in space.
The CHIME interferometric radio telescope, which continuously scans the sky and is sensitive to brief radio bursts, was developed in Canada.
The majority of FRBs are one-time events that last just a few milliseconds. Although the signal seemed more random than periodic, it was recently found to reoccur every 16 days.
But CHIME discovered the recurring, heartbeat-like signal in December 2019. At the time, Michilli was scanning the incoming data. According to Michilli, “there aren’t many entities in the world that emit strictly periodic signals.”
Scientists believe that the new FRB may have come from a radio pulsar or magnetar, both of which are neutron stars, although its origin is yet unknown. These are the cores of big stars that have collapsed and are spinning quickly.
According to Michilli, “CHIME has now identified several FRBs with various characteristics. “Some of the creatures we’ve observed dwell in extremely chaotic clouds, while others appear to be in pristine settings. We can infer from the characteristics of this new signal that the plasma cloud surrounding this source must be very turbulent.”
They anticipate catching additional bursts from FRB 20191221A. They might benefit from the discovery as they research neutron stars and the universe.
According to Michilli, “This observation raises the question of what may be the source of this extreme signal that we have never seen, and how can we use this signal to investigate the cosmos.” “Future telescopes promise to find thousands of FRBs a month, and at that time we may uncover many more of these periodic signals,” the statement continued.
This source’s periodic emissions may serve as an astronomical clock if there were more of them. The rate at which the universe is expanding, for example, could be determined from the frequency of the bursts and how it changes as the source moves away from Earth, according to the press release.