In April, a group of astronomers spotted a short, powerful blast of radio waves coming from outer space and then successfully found where it was coming from: a powerful object within our own galaxy.
Three papers reporting the detection of the phenomenon called FRB were published in the journal Nature on November 4.
FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves (radio waves can be produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields) whose durations lie in the millisecond-scale, because of which it is difficult to detect them and determine their position in the sky.
According to Indian Express, The source of the FRB detected in April in the Milky Way is a very powerful magnetic neutron star, referred to as a magnetar, called SGR 1935+2154 or SGR 1935, which is located in the constellation Vulpecula and is estimated to be between 14,000-41,000 light-years away.
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The report further stated that The FRB was part of one of the magnetar’s most prolific flare-ups, with the X-ray bursts lasting less than a second. The radio burst, on the other hand, lasted for a thousandth of a second and was thousands of times brighter than any other radio emissions from magnetars seen in the Milky Way previously. It is possible that the FRB-associated burst was exceptional because it likely occurred at or close to the magnetar’s magnetic pole.
This flare-up, which lasted for hours, was picked up by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space telescope and NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), which is an X-ray telescope mounted on the International Space Station.
Telescopes have picked up such bursts before, but always from outside our galaxy. Researchers have wondered for years what could cause these ephemeral but powerful blasts, with speculation ranging from exploding stars to alien technologies.