The cosmic spot where some mysterious irregular cosmic phenomena occurs has been identified by researchers at Cornell University in a dwarf galaxy located more than 3 billion light years from Earth, according to a study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Fast radio bursts (FRB) are some quick flashes of high energy radio waves. First detected in 2007, this phenomenon has been intriguing the scientists trying to understand its origins over a decade. So fa, only 18 episodes of FRB were detected.
Last year researchers found that one of these phenomena, identified in November 2012 by Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, repeats irregularly.
An international team led by Shami Chatterjee, from Cornell University, identified the source of this impulse called FRB 121 102, using the network of radio telescopes Karl Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico.
“At first, FRB was detected by radio telescopes only by a single antenna at a very low resolution. Then we managed to find out where it came from thanks to higher resolution telescopes”, said Shami Chatterjee.
Last year, during the 83 hours of observations, for 6 months, VLA has detected 9 impulses of the FRB.
Then, using the Gemini North optical telescope in Hawaii, researchers have determined that the source of these radio pulses is a dwarf galaxy located more than 3 billion light years from Earth. “A humble and modest galaxy”, as characterized by Shriharsh Tendulkar, from McGill University in Montreal.
The researchers that have published this study suggested several hypotheses about the identity of the cosmic object that could produce such rapid radio waves.
Before the discovery of this recurrent phenomenon, the most prevalent hypothesis was that the fast radio waves could be caused by catastrophic events resulted in the destruction of the source: the explosion of a massive star at the stage of supernova or the collision of two neutron stars.
But observing a recurrent FRB phenomenon dismantled this hypothesis: the source of the impulses has not been destroyed.
“It could be a phenomenon associated with an active galactic nucleus. Or, perhaps more plausibly, the impulses emitted by a magnetar giant”, according to Shami Chatterjee.
Even if the answer about the identity of the cosmic object is not clear, the researchers obtained data that could change everything we thought we knew about these phenomena.