Astronomers have discovered a new type of fast radio burst (FRB).
FBR 121102 has a staggering 157-day cycle, according to researchers, who studied the cosmic event during a four-year observation period.
The team used the the Lovell Telescope at England's Jodrell Bank Observatory.
Fast radio bursts (FRB) are one of the most mysterious events in the cosmos.
These powerful bursts of energy have stumped astronomers since they first discovered them in 2007. Since then, researchers have spotted evidence of more than 100 FRBs. And now, an international study team team believes it's uncovered new information about a well-known FRB that could shed light on how they form.
Over the course of four years, the scientists used the 250-foot-wide Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory in England to study FRB 121102, a previously discovered repeating radio burst. They found that FRB 121102—one of two known repeating FRBs—seemed to have a peculiar cycle, flaring up after 90 days and then vanishing for 67 days.
The other repeating fast radio burst, FRB 180916.J10158+56, has a much shorter cycle at just 16 days. The scientists posted their observations June 7 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
"The discovery that at least some Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) repeat has ruled out cataclysmic events as the progenitors of these particular bursts," the authors wrote in their paper, which can read on arXiv.
While some astronomers have suspected a type of spinning neutron star called a magnetar could cause cause FRBs, Others have suggested they may be the work of extraterrestrial civilizations trying to reach out. This latest research may have ruled out the magnetar theory.
"Detecting a periodicity provides an important constraint on the origin of the bursts and the activity cycles could argue against a precessing neutron star," lead researcher Kaustubh Rajwade, of The University of Manchester, said in a press statement. The cyclical nature of these events suggests maybe they're linked to a binary system, where one object circles another, but more research is needed.
Sounds like aliens are still on the table.
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