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A neutron star or a massive black hole may be the source of mysterious and highly energetic radio pulses that light up skies across the universe.
A paper published on Wednesday in Nature describes a particular fast radio burst (FRB) source. Scientists have spied about 30 FRBs so far, but FRB 121102 is the only signal source that is known to repeat.
Discovery - Years - Dwarf - Galaxy - Burst
Its discovery was confirmed in 2014. Located three billion light years away in a dwarf galaxy, the burst's source packs a mighty punch. It can apparently release 10 million trillion trillion joules of energy in less than a millisecond during a single pulse.
Scientists have been racking their brains ever since to figure out what could be powering this unusual event. After analyzing the mysterious output, a team of astrophysicists realized the radio waves were nearly 100 per cent polarized in a given direction.
Behavior - Faraday - Effect - Phenomenon - Passes
This behavior can be measured by studying the Faraday effect, a phenomenon that occurs when light passes through a magnetic field. Shami Chatterjee, coauthor of the paper and a senior research associate at Cornell University in New York, explained to The Register that the observed polarization hints at what processes could could be causing the burst.
“If the emission process was thermal like in an explosion, the emitting particles would be bouncing all over the place and the light would not be polarized," he said. "The fact that it is polarized tells us that the emission process must be non-thermal and coherent, like a laser instead of an incandescent bulb.”
Energy - Environment - Fields - Victoria - Kaspi
It means that whatever was emitting the energy is in an environment with powerful magnetic fields. Victoria Kaspi, coauthor of the paper and a professor of physics at McGill University in Quebec, Canada, told The Register: “We don't know the origin of the...
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