Nasa’s hubble telescope, although launched in 1990, is still bringing numerous and wondrous discoveries back to earth today. Just recently, Nasa located some mysterious radio bursts, otherwise known as fast radio bursts, (FRB’s), coming from a far away galaxy. These FBR’s are immensely powerful. They produce as much energy in one millisecond, as our sun does in one whole year. Because they are so short-lived, they are very hard to track. Out of 1000 discovered, NASA was able to track only 15 back to specific galaxies.
For the most recently found radio bursts, not only was NASA able to track them back to a galaxy, they were also able to see exactly which part of the galaxy they were coming from. This was directly related to Hubble’s amazing resolution, and allowed for a much better understanding of how these bursts were created, and where they came from.
The images below depict two main findings. Firstly, The FRB’s come from the spiral arms of galaxies. These galaxies are also relatively young, and are still producing stars. This is a very important fact, as it leads us on to the next point, which is the ultimate cause of these bursts.
Although it is not aliens, to a relatively interested scientist, it can be just as exciting. So, as we said earlier, these galaxies are still producing stars, and more specifically, a type of neutron star called a magnetar. This type of star has an extremely strong magnetic field. To put the strength of its magnetic field into perspective, it is around one thousand trillion times more powerful than the magnetic field of Earth. It is so powerful that it heats up the surface to around 18 million degrees fahrenheit. In comparison, the sun is only at around 9000 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can probably imagine, this makes magnetars very unpredictable, and many magnetic processes such as flares can appear in them, which emit radio signals. These magnetars are found in galaxies that are relatively new, and about the size of our milky way galaxy. This opens up a whole new world of research for scientists around the world.
By: Harnoor Deep Singh
June 1, 2021