Brainy Quote of the Day

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

FRBs and Magnetars...

Radio map of the whole sky in Galactic coordinates, with pulsars found within the High Time Resolution Universe Survey (HTRU) project marked as black dots. The positions of the newly detected four Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are marked as red asterisks.© MPIfR / C. Ng
With some irony, published on their site 4 July:

An international team of researchers including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn have detected burst of radio waves that appear to have originated billions of light years away - when the Universe was just 6 to 9 billion years old. The researchers are still baffled about the origins of these emissions. In the future, they intend to use these flashes to probe the intergalactic space.

Four Fast Radio Bursts or FRBs with durations of only a few milliseconds were detected at high Galactic latitudes in the southern sky. The extremely short duration of the bursts and the inferred great distance imply that they have been caused by some cataclysmic cosmological event, such as two merging neutron stars or a star dying or being swallowed by a black hole.

The results point to some of the most extreme events in astrophysics involving large amounts of mass or energy as the source of the radio bursts.

The team used the CSIRO Parkes 64metre radio telescope to obtain their results. Swinburne's Professor Matthew Bailes thinks the most likely source of the bursts are cataclysmic explosions in the Universe's most magnetic neutron stars otherwise known as magnetars. "Magnetars can give off more energy in a millisecond than our Sun does in 300,000 years and are a leading candidate for the bursts", he says.

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft: Flashes in the Sky

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