Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts (FBRs) Discovered to be Repeating every 157 days

Astronomers have just discovered an activity cycle of extragalactic flashes of light or FBRs in space. It seems to potentially revealing a significant clue about the nature of FBRs.

Fast Radio Bursts

Scientists discovered the mysterious deep-space phenomenon of FBRs for the very first time in 2007. They consist of a serious wallop that releases so much energy in a few milliseconds that’s equivalent to the energy released by the sun in a century.

BRs Discovered to be Repeating every 157  days
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Image Credit: Jingchuan Yu, Beijing Planetarium

The cause of these eruptions remained difficult to track for nearly a decade and a half. Later on, different potential explanations emerged ranging from merging super-dense neutron stars to advanced alien civilizations.

To date, scientists have discovered more than 100 FBRs. Most of them were found to be one-offs; that means they flared up just for one time.

At the beginning of 2020, astronomers discovered that one flash-light from the ‘repeater’ group exhibited the activity cycle of 16-days. They named it FRB 180916.J0158+65. It fires off bursts for a duration of four days and then goes quiet for 12 days. After that, it starts all over again.

Recently, the researchers have reported the activity of another repeater known as FBR 121102 in their study. They used the Lovell Telescope to monitor the activity of FBR 121102 for five years. This telescope is a 250-foot or 76 meters wide radio dish located at Jodrell Bank Observatory in England.

The researchers observed strong indications of a 157-day activity cycle of FBR 121102. It seems to flare up for 90 days and then go silent for 67 days.

Still, the researchers are not sure about the cause behind this cyclic activity. However, they do have some ideas about this phenomenon. According to them, the periodic flare-ups could be the result of the wobble in the rotational axis of a highly-magnetized neutron star known as a Magnetar. Another reason behind the activity cycle of the FBR could be linked to the orbital motions of a neutron star in the binary system.


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