Mysterious radio signals coming from galaxies like our own, study says

 (The Independent)
(The Independent)

Unexplained and powerful radio blasts coming from deep in space might be coming from galaxies like our own, according to a new study.

The research suggests that there may be far more to fast radio bursts, or FRBs, than we had previously realised.

FRBs are very intense, very short blasts of radio energy that come to us from deep in space. They release as much energy in a miisecond as the Sun does in three days.

They were first found in 2007. Since then, more 1,000 FRBs have been detected from various parts of the universe.

Scientists still do not know where they come from. But it is clear that they originate somewhere extreme or unusual: explanations have ranged from neutron stars and black holes to alien technologies.

To try and understand those blasts, scientists have spent much time focusing on very active sources that repeat. Those are useful because the repeating nature of them means that scientists can focus on the parts of the sky they are expected to come from.

But only about three per cent of sources of fast radio burst repeat. That means that the remaining sources are relatively unknown.

A new study examined 128 of those non-repeating FRBs, which have only signal And it suggests that they come from galaxies like our own Milky Way, with only relatively limited densities and modest magnetic fields.

“This was the first look at the other 97 per cent,” says lead author Ayush Pandhi, from the University of Toronto. “It allows us to reconsider what we think FRBs are and see how repeating and non-repeating FRBs may be different.”

The study looked at the sources using polarised light. That means that the scientists were able to examine not just how bright they were but also what angle the vibrating electromagnetic waves came at.

That allows scientists to understand the sources better, since that angle can be used to understand information about how and where it came from, and where it has been on its long journey to Earth.