Scientists have detected mysterious and powerful radio signals coming from within the Milky Way.
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are a complex phenomenon first detected in 2007. Previous observations have never identified them from within our galaxy.
The signals are brief but incredibly powerful. They emit more energy in a millisecond than the sun does the whole day.
Based on observations made across Canada, the US, China and space, the source has been uncovered. Three research papers have been published in the journal, ‘Nature’.
Two space telescopes picked up powerful X-ray and gamma ray radiation which came from a cosmic body on the other side of the galaxy earlier this year, on 27th April.
Telescopes spotted the enormously powerful and fast radio burst, which astronomers named FRB 200428 – after the date. They described it as “the most luminous radio burst ever detected in our galaxy”
Astronomers don’t really know what causes FRBs, but the new signal detected from within our own galaxy offers some vital information which could help solve the mystery. Coming from within our own Milky Way, astronomers were able to trace it to its probable source. It was a type of neutron star which has a strong magnetic field called a magnetar.
This cosmic body is the residue of a star which collapsed long ago in a supernova explosion, about 30,000 light years away from Earth.
“There’s this great mystery as to what would produce these great outbursts of energy, which until now we’ve seen coming from halfway across the universe,” said Professor Kiyoshi Masui, assistant professor of physics at MIT.
It still isn’t clear how the highly magnetized neutron stars could produce the bursts of energy and range of electromagnetic emissions.