We traced 5 mysterious fast radio bursts to the arms of distant spiral galaxies


Head Fast radio bursts (FRBs) continue to dazzle astronomers. Nobody is completely sure what caused these ultrashort and intense radio pulses from deep space, but astronomers have now tracked five FRBs back to their original galaxies.

It’s the Hubble Space Telescope That appeared with the cargo again. The ultraviolet and infrared cameras on the telescope were used to find out where these five bursts appeared on the star map, giving us a better understanding of how they appeared in the first place.

Before now, only about 15 of a thousand or so FRBs discovered so far had been traced back to specific galaxies, so the tracking made on this set of bursts is an important indicator of how this phenomenon works.

“Our results are new and exciting,” Says astronomer Alexandra ManningsFrom the University of California, Santa Cruz. “This is the first high-resolution display of a group of FRBs, and Hubble reveals that five of them are located near or above the spiral arms of the galaxy. Most galaxies are massive, relatively small, and still form stars. ”

“Imaging allows us to get a better idea of ​​the host galaxy’s overall characteristics, such as its mass and rate of star formation, as well as check what is happening directly in the FRB Position because Hubble has great precision. ”

FRBs generate as much energy in a thousandth of a second as the Sun does in a year, and the more we discover about it, the more exciting it becomes. It cannot be communications from an alien life … can they? (Probably not, sorry.)

Part of the difficulty in studying these bursts is that they last for milliseconds and rarely repeat themselves. Scientists also don’t really know where to look for the next thing, which makes tracing their origins and causes really difficult.

Turns out these five came from the duller parts of the spiral arms around galaxies that tell experts a lot. Spiral arms are where the hottest and younger stars in the galaxy hang out, but these FRBs don’t come from the brightest parts of the arms.

Four FRB sites. (NASA, European Space Agency, Alexandra Mannings, Wayne Fei Fung; Image Processing: Alyssa Pagan)

Since we know what types of stars are in and not in the spiral arm regions, the results support the hypothesis that FRBs probably originate from ferromagnetic stars – dense stars with incredibly strong magnetic fields, which tend to be found at FRB sites observed by Hubble.

“Because of the strong magnetic fields, magnets are completely unpredictable,” Says astronomer Win Fei Fung From Northwestern University. “In this case, the FRBs are thought to come from flares from a young magnetic star.”

“Massive stars undergo stellar evolution and become neutron stars, and some of them can be strongly magnetized, resulting in flares and magnetic processes on their surfaces, which can emit radio light. Our study fits into that picture and excludes either the young or the very young ancestors of FRBs. “

This Hubble-based investigative work also goes further than previous research into attaching FRBs to galaxies that have specific basic structures – in this case, spiral arms. This is a link that has not been clearly created before.

Slowly but surely, experts are gathering some powerful information about these elusive pulses from the release of energy through space. After identifying these events in 2007, astronomers last year found evidence of the first FRB in our galaxy.

The question of what exactly FRBs are and where they came from remains unanswered, but studies like this new NASA study are starting to rule out some possibilities as others judge them, and the more detailed images we can get of space, the better.

“We don’t know what causes FRBs, so it’s really important to use context when we have it,” Fong says. “This technique has successfully recognized the ancestors of other types of transients, such as supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Hubble played a big role in those studies as well. ”

The research has not yet been published, but it will appear in The Astrophysical Journal. It is now available as an introductory print on arXiv.org.


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