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Indexed under : Physics / Cosmology

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

Fast radio bursts

Lasting only a fraction of a second yet packing a phenomenal amount of energy, FRBs are brief radio flashes of unknown origin that appear to come from random directions on the sky. Though only a handful have been documented previously, astronomers believe that the observable Universe is rocked by thousands of these events each day.“

Source : National Radio Astronomy Observatory, US

The bursts typically last only a few milliseconds, are wideband (from MHz to GHz), sometimes polarised, and are thought to originate predominantly outside our galaxy. Possible explanations for their source include:

  • Collapsing black holes or neutron stars
  • Blitzars (a spinning pulsar rapidly collapses into a black hole)
  • Hyperflares of magnetars (a neutron star with an extremely powerful magnetic field)

However :

None of the models put forward seem perfectly adequate. Not one really explains all the observations.”

Source; PNAS 2017

More info Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy

Note: A new (2017) study from Harvard puts forward the imaginative idea that FRBs may be signs of Alien Civilisation's use of photon-drives to propel their spacecraft . . . though the authors end with the statement that the purpose of their paper includes “at the very least, the important purpose of enabling astronomers to rule it out” . . . See : Fast Radio Bursts from Extragalactic Light Sails

Update August 2017 :

Project Breakthrough Listen (UC Berkeley)

[…] has detected 15 fast radio bursts emanating from the mysterious 'repeater' FRB 121102.”

Source

Also see Fast Blue Optical Transientsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigFast Blue Optical Transients

Fast Blue Optical Transients (FBOTs) are a recently discovered (2014) class of transient astronomical objects. They have similarities with Gamma-ray bursts - but appear to be vastly more powerful.

A research team from Northwestern Universi…


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