A repeating fast radio burst from an extragalactic source detected

ANI | Updated: Jan 11, 2018 19:09 IST

Washington D.C. [U.S.], Jan. 11 (ANI): Newly-detected bursts of radio waves indicate the presence of an environment near a massively huge black hole or inside a nebula of exceptionally extraordinary power. The unprecedentedly potent magnetic field in the source's environment could be the reason, researchers speculate.

Researchers Victoria Kaspi and Shriharsh Tendulkar carried out the study for a year. They named the fast radio burst as FRB 121102 and pinpointed the location of this enigmatic source of such power field.

They reported that it is located in a dwarf galaxy in its star-forming region, more than 3 billion light-years away from Earth. The huge distance implied the unparalleled amount of energy in each burst which is roughly around as much energy in a single millisecond as the Sun releases in an entire day.

Now, with the help of data provided by Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, the researchers determined that the radio bursts are highly polarized. This new information led to some new revelations.

The physics professor and director of McGill Space Institute, Kapsi tells about his wonder at the results. "I could not believe my eyes when my colleagues emailed the results around. This sort of enormous Faraday rotation is extremely rare. Once we digested it, we realised it was a huge clue about where this bizarre source resides".

The phenomenon known as Faraday rotation could be the reason. The effect happens when polarized radio waves pass through a region with a magnetic field, the polarization gets ``twisted''. The results are the stronger the magnetic field, the greater the twisting. The research also specified that the radio burst of FRB 121102 is one of the largest ever measured amounts of twisting. It led to conclusions that the bursts are passing through an extraordinarily strong magnetic field in the dense plasma.

One of the possible explanations for such hugely magnetized field is that FRB 121102 is located in the proximity of a black hole. Another such black hole is only been found in the centre of Milky Way Galaxy. Another possible explanation is FRB 121102 is located amidst a dead star or in a powerful nebula which is an interstellar cloud of gas and dust.

Shiriharsh Tendulkar said, "The CHIME telescope in Penticton, British Columbia, should be an excellent instrument for detecting fast radio bursts and studying their polarization properties". He insists that new telescopes could provide answers to more fundamental questions about FRBs.

He added, "When it comes online in 2018, it should be capable of detecting between a few and a few dozen FRBs every day".

The research was conducted by McGill University. Other supporters were the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics & Cosmology, the Canada Research Chairs program, the Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and the FRQNT Centre de Recherche en Astrophysique du Quebec. (ANI)