A team of astronomers claims to have detected a never-before-heard radio signal, providing insights into the mysteries of deep space.
This signal is called a Fast Radio Burst (FRB), which lasts a few milliseconds and is a bright flash of radio light originating from beyond the Milky Way.
Some FRBs repeat themselves, and a new study is published Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Societyy shed new light. The study found that the most active repeating FRB signal behaved differently than anything previously detected.
“This work is exciting because it provides both confirmation of known FRB properties and the discovery of some new ones,” said lead author Sophia Shaikh. The SETI Institute In California.
Over a two-month period, Sheikh and other scientists observed 35 FRBs from a single source, FRB 20220912A. They discovered a fascinating pattern emerging from their observations.
According to astronomers, most recurring FRBs gradually decrease in pitch. However, FRB 20220912A is different. It has a never-before-seen change in pitch, sounding like a cosmic slide-whistle that can be heard using a xylophone to convert the data into a sound clip.
There are high-pitched notes at the beginning of the clip, while low-pitched notes are at the end, like someone playing a xylophone and repeatedly hitting the lowest note, SETI Institute scientists report.
Astronomers believe that some FRBs are caused by a neutron star called a magnetar. These neutron stars have very strong magnetic fields and are the cores of dead stars.
“We are narrowing down the source of FRBs, for example, to extreme objects such as magnets, but no existing model can explain all the properties observed so far,” said Shaikh.
Other theories suggest that FRBs can be produced by colliding neutron stars or merging white dwarfs.
The latest research is another step forward in the quest to unlock the secrets of FRBs, Sheikh said, which produce about one-thousandth of a second as much energy as our Sun does in an entire year.