Rescently for the second time, astronomers have detected a pattern in a mysterious fast radio burst coming from space. Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are millisecond-long bursts of radio waves in space, and astronomers have been able to trace some radio bursts back to their home galaxies.The FRB are known to send out short, energetic radio waves multiple times.
Astronomers are dsicovering that FRB 180916.J0158+65 had a pattern in bursts occurring every 16.35 days. Over the course of four days, the signal would release a burst or two each hour. Then, it would go silent for another 12 days.Now, astronomers have detected a pattern in a second repeating fast radio burst, known as FRB 121102. During this cyclical pattern, radio bursts are emitted during a 90-day window, followed by a silent period of 67 days. This pattern repeats every 157 days.
FRB 121102 was the first repeating fast radio burst to be traced back to its source, linked back to a small dwarf galaxy more than 3 billion light-years away in 2017. Researchers are informing us that that this repeating fast radio burst pattern is at least 10 times longer than the one repeating every 16.4 days shows the potential large range for such activity.
One of the explanation for repeating fast radio bursts has been the precession, or wobbling top motion, of a highly magnetized neutron star’s axis. But that may not explain what astronomers are seeing for this particular burst because it lasts so long.
The burst pattern in this study was detected while using the Lovell Telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in the United Kingdom over four years. The telescope is sensitive to faint radio signals and capable of regularly monitoring repeating fast radio bursts that have already been identified. Fast radio bursts were only discovered in 2007, followed by the discovery that some of them can repeat in 2016.
More observations of FRBs will be needed in order to obtain a clearer picture about these periodic sources and elucidate their origin.