With the help of new software, astronomers managed to find more clues about the Fast Radio Bursts – radio signals that seem to come from about six billion light years away perhaps from a forming star or a supernova.
The extragalactic radio flashes were observed almost a decade ago, and now scientists from Canada, the United States, South Africa, China, and India, may have found an explanation which sadly does not involve alien transmissions.
According to astronomers, the radio bursts most likely came from inside the gas cloud which surrounds a star that was being born, or they occurred due to the explosion of a star. The first such burst was discovered in 2007 by Duncan Lorimer, an astronomer at West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, West Virginia. About sixteen similar bursts have been observed ever since.
Scientists say that thousands of these types of radio bursts could take place each day. There are several theories as to how they are produces, such as fairing dead stars, collision of dense objects or evaporating black holes.
Scott Ransom, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in West Virginia, said that the radio waves were truly mind-blowing, as they were coming from outside of the Milky Way galaxy.
Thanks to new technology, we can now better understand them. According to scientists, the radio waves probably come from a region in space that is heavily magnetised. The waves pass through two gas clouds before reaching Earth and being recorded by the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) at National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia.
Kiyoshi Masui, lead author of the paper and an astronomer with the University of British Columbia in Canada, said that not long after it formed, the energy from the radio burst travelled through a highly magnetised field.
The scientists created new software that analysed the 650 hours of close observation recorded by the Green Bank Telescope.
Jeffrey Peterson, co-author of the study and a physics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, stated that the results of the data analysis showed a signal similar to that of a Fast Radio Burst, but with an additional never before seen element.
The radio signal was twisted, meaning that it had most likely travelled through a strong magnetic field that was located somewhere outside of the Milky Way galaxy. The signal also went through two regions of ionized gas, according to the astronomers.
The scientists published their paper on December 2 in the journal Nature.