Fast radio bursts (FRB) are bright pulses of radio emissions that originate from locations far beyond our galaxy. This phenomenon has intrigued scientists for years. Now, the mystery seems to have deepened, as, for the first time, FRBs were detected that repeat during a certain time interval.
More than 100 FRBs have been cataloged by researchers since 2007. However, only 10 had repetitions and none of them showed any kind of periodicity. Now, astrophysicists led by Dongzi Li of the University of Toronto have observed a burst that repeats every 16 days.
The research was made from data collected by the CHIME radio telescope (acronym in English for “Canadian hydrogen intensity mapping experiment”, in free translation). Scientists observed bursts of about one to two radio emissions per hour for four days, followed by a silence of just over 12 days before repeating the cycle. The bursts in question originate in a “cradle” of stars on the outskirts of a galaxy about 500 million light-years from Earth.
According to the authors of the study, the discovery offers important clues about the nature of the phenomenon. Despite this, it is still not clear what the origin of the gusts is. One possible explanation for the periodicity is that a massive object, such as a nearby black hole or a star, could be interfering with the source of these emissions. Another hypothesis is that there may be interference from other phenomena, such as stellar winds.