MIT astronomers detect a mysterious radio burst signal coming from distant space

Massachusetts Institute of Technology states that astronomers detected an unusual radio signal coming from a distant galaxy.

According to MIT astronomers, the signal is a fast and intense burst of radio waves that lasted for approximately three seconds. Usually, mysterious radio signals last for approximately a few milliseconds while in this case, it was a diversion including a burst of radio waves every 0.2 seconds in a periodic pattern. The discovery of the radio burst has been reported in the journal Nature in collaboration with the members of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment or CHIME/FRB.

CHIME is a radio telescope situated in British Columbia, Canada, designed to pick up radio waves emitted by hydrogen in the early stages of the universe at the same time it detects fast radio bursts or FRBs.

According to officials, CHIME picked the first FRB in December 2019 drawing the attention of the researchers. Researcher Michilli described it as “unusual” adding, “Not only was it very long, lasting about three seconds, but there were periodic peaks that were remarkably precise, emitting every fraction of a second — boom, boom, boom — like a heartbeat.”

The researchers named the FRB 20191221A and said that it lasted with a clear periodic pattern. However, astronomers stated that the FRB has probably emitted from either a radio pulsar or a magnetar, or some types of neutron stars resulted from collapsing cores of massive stars. The location is not defined as of yet.

According to Michilli, “There are not many things in the universe that emit strictly periodic signals..Examples that we know of in our own galaxy are radio pulsars and magnetars, which rotate and produce a beamed emission similar to a lighthouse. And we think this new signal could be a magnetar or pulsar on steroids.”

He also added that astronomers have never detected such extreme signals and they are keen to study how that signal came into existence. However, FRBs are quite common in space but finding the FRB with periodic signals will reveal a lot more information about our universe.

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