Mysterious Radio Bursts Coming from Space have a ‘Repeating Pattern’ Every 157 Days, Astronomers Say

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Mysterious bursts of radio coming from deep into space repeat in a sequence every 157 days, scientists have noticed.

Researchers found that the wild unpredictability of elusive deep-space fast radio burst (FRB) may actually be an issue with detection capabilities in some situations.

ALSO READ: Mysterious Fast Radio Burst Traced To Its Origins In A Faraway Galaxy

The bursts come in a window of about 90 days, followed by a 67-day silent duration. The pattern then continues, leaving a stable period of 157 days, which has been recorded over many years. If this analysis is right, a new activity period should have been entered by the source earlier this month.

That long pattern might suggest the blasts are linked to a massive star, a neutron star or a black hole swirling, orbital motion.

“The discovery that at least some Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) repeat has ruled out cataclysmic events as the progenitors of these particular bursts,” the authors wrote in their paper. The research can read on arXiv.

That long pattern might suggest the blasts are linked to a massive star, a neutron star or a black hole swirling, orbital motion.

The researchers said the large range in the observed periods (16-160 days) can constrain the possible binary systems unless proven that the orbital motion causes the observed periodicity in FRB.

“This is an exciting result as it is only the second system where we believe we see this modulation in burst activity,” said Kaustubh Rajwade of The University of Manchester. 

Rajwade, who is the lead author of the study, said that detecting a periodicity provides an essential constraint on the bursts. He added the activity cycles could argue against a precessing neutron star.

FRBs are enormously energetic radiation flares in the radio spectrum that last only a few milliseconds at most. They can discharge as much power in that period as hundreds of millions of energy the Sun could do.

ALSO READ: Fast Radio Bursts Traced To A Distant Dwarf Galaxy: How Did Scientists Pinpoint These Mysterious Signals?

Most flare only once, unexpectedly, and we never noticed them again. This makes them unpredictable, while scientists are getting much better at tracking these one-off bursts to their home galaxies.

A limited number of sources show repeat operation. This repeat phenomenon was also believed to be spontaneous-until earlier this year when a source named FRB 180916 was found to be repeating on a loop.

Scientists hope to use the pattern to understand the enigmatic blasts better. Researchers were unable to figure out how the bursts could be produced. They were only sure that out of some mysterious, very intense part of the universe would come the short yet powerful blasts.

Fast radio bursts were first observed in 2007 and initially were assumed to result from a one-off occurrence. Then, in 2016, scientists found that FRB 121102 actually repeated.

ALSO READ: Arecibo Radio Telescope Discovers First-Known Repeating Fast Radio Burst

In the latest research, scientists then used telescopes at Jodrell Bank to study the FRB source. It allowed regular monitoring over a long period that revealed the blast could be seen coming in a repeating pattern when observed for a long time.

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