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Exploring Origins of a Fast Radio Burst

10 Jan 2018, 18:10 UTC
Exploring Origins of a Fast Radio Burst
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Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) continue to intrigue us given their energy levels. You may recall FRB 121102, which was revealed at a press conference almost exactly one year ago to be located in a radio galaxy some 3 billion light years away. This is a repeating FRB (the only repeating source yet found), making its study an imperative as we try to characterize the phenomenon.
With data from Arecibo, the Very Large Array and the European VLBI network, astronomers determined its position to within a fraction of an arcsecond, where a source of weak radio emission is also traced. Today, drawing on new observations from Arecibo and the Green Bank instrument in West Virginia, we learn something about the source of these bursts.
The energies we are talking about are obviously titanic. Given the distance between the source and us, researchers have calculated that each burst throws as much energy in a single millisecond as our Sun releases in an entire day. And as we learn in the latest issue of Nature, an international team has been able to show that the bursts from FRB 121102 are highly polarized, allowing insights into the environment from which it sprang. The analysis ...

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