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Content Guidelinesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigContent guidelines

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Q. Why the weird syntax? A. Like most Wikis, the site doesn't use HTML for formatting (security reasons etc). A guide to the special syntax can be found here. Unfortunately it can be quite confusing at first - but there's now a new 'Visual …

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• Oct 2020 : A milestone of 500 unknown articles has been reached.

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538 unknowns listed

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Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of the Unknown Science

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. Hypotheses 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.”

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