Scientists finally traced back the strange radio waves that puzzled them for ten years. They traced the fast radio signal or what scientist called FRB 121102 to a dim, dwarf galaxy three billion light-years away.
The astronomer at Cornell University, Dr. Shumi Chatterjee showed his amazement in a phone interview with The Post. Dr. Chatterjee also headed the study, he said, “It’s an incredibly, tiny, nondescript galaxy to be producing something this bright.”
The Nature journal published the whole study on January 4.
Astronomers describe FRBs as ultra-bright and extremely energetic streaks of radiation that only last for just a few milliseconds. However, it can shoot up to 500 million suns.
Only a total of 18 FRBs has been detected in the world. Parke Observatory in Australia first detected the FRBs way back in 2007. However, the origin of the said FRBs remains a mystery.
Every day, scientists estimate around five to 10,000 FRBs travel across the sky. They deem that it is a bit odd that the first ever identified source of the FRBs came from a very tiny galaxy.
However, Dr. Chatterjee said, “But one had to be the first to be pinned down,” which happens to be the FRB 121101.
A research study published in the Astrophysical Journal registered six new bursts from FRB 121102 in December. Scientists first spotted the burst in November 2012 which lasted three one-thousandths of a second. Another first for the FRB 121101, since it was the only recurring signal recorded.
Since its discovery, many hoped that the burst could possibly be extraterrestrial.
“Honestly, we had forgotten that was about to be published. It’s a completely different paper.” Dr. Chatterjee said. He also the co-authored the said study.
Moreover, Dr. Chatterjee claimed that the research paper they submitted went back for a review in April. The recently discovered pulses allowed the doctor’s team to directly locate the origin of the bursts.
The speed of the burst of the FRBs can go swiftly. Hence, a telescope must be set to capture the location of the bursts. Finding the location can help a scientist in discovering what generates the bursts.
In 2012, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico detected the FRB 121101 signal.
The team of Dr. Chatterjee operated the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico to pinpoint the burst’s location.
The Y-shaped network of 27 super sensitive radio telescopes discovered a ‘smudge’ of light in the sky. Chile’s Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, Gemini optical telescope in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and NASA’s Chandra X-ray satellite closely monitored it.
Later, Astronomers located the ‘smudge’ in a very tiny galaxy.
Sarah Burke-Spolaor, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory believed that the discovery opens another domain in science. In an interview with the journal Nature, she said, “This detection has really broken open the gates of a new realm of science and discovery.”
Meanwhile, scientists are conducting a further study about FRBs. They want to find out what caused celestial occurrences or if they act the same as 121101. Scientists also wonder if the bursts mean something else. Some theories surrounding the FRBs include black holes, energetic galactic nuclei or a new star with a huge magnetic field.
Scientists did not consider alien life forms.
However, Dr. Chatterjee stated, “As scientists say, never say never.”