Astronomers reveal pattern in rapid radio explosions

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Scientists found a pattern in fast radio bursts (FRB) for sudden pulses – lasting less than milliseconds – still unexplained in some galaxies. In this spectrum, a team of astronomers studied the event in periods of 3 to 4 microseconds, revealing the presence of a stable brightness structure. The adopted technique can help to uncover clues about the origin and physics of the emissions. The study was published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

The work was led by Kenzie Nimmo, from the Anton Pannekoek Institute of Astronomy at the University of Amsterdam. By analyzing the FRB 180916 with high resolution data from the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network radio telescope network, it captured a repeated burst operating in cycles of 16 days, in which explosions occur every 4 days, followed by an inactivity for 12 days.

“The microstructure to which we refer in the research is related to the brightness and properties of the explosion that varies in microsecond time scales. These variations strongly restrict the size of the FRB emission region, which dictates which models can work for your production, ”said Nimmo to Vice.

The observation made it possible to determine that the wave-creating area has a scale of 1 kilometer in length, with the source of the explosion about 457 million light-years from Earth. Thus, the high precision of the study results also reveals details of the polarization position angle (PPA), a property that can detect objects responsible for the phenomenon.

For the researchers, neutron stars – a type of extremely dense and magnetized dead star – must be the most attractive model to originate FRBs, due to their high rates of instability. However, based on the repetition frequency of FRB 180916, they suggest the possibility that the formation is related to a binary system, in which the explosions would be amplified by the collision of a neutron star with a massive one in a certain orbit.

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