Modern astronomy is not a science without its mysteries. After a five-year-long observation noticed a repeating pattern in a radio signal coming from a tiny dwarf galaxy about three billion light-years from our home planet, we might be a step closer to understanding the universe.
This comes after another landmark study into fast radio bursts, one of the most important topics of the time. Extremely short, but very bright radio pulses, these bursts were first detected using the Parkes radio telescope in Australia, back in 2007.
These flares of radiation, very high in energy in the radio spectrum, last for just a few milliseconds and usually happen only once. Several thousand fast radio bursts come from deep space every day, from every direction, but there are two that are especially interesting for astronomers. These are the fast radio bursts 121102 and 180916.J10158+56. What is interesting about these fast radio bursts is that they keep repeating on a regular basis.
Initially noticed in 2014 by the Arecibo radio telescope, located in Puerto Rico, the fast radio burst 121102 was detected once more in 2016, becoming the only signal to occur multiple times. This forced scientists to give second thought to the theory that fast radio bursts are unique events that relate to stars that explode as supernovas.
Since 121102, 19 more fast radio bursts were discovered. Recently, an enormous radio telescope located in Cheshire, United Kingdom, known as the Jodrell Bank Observatory, detected an additional 32 bursts over a period of five years. These appeared to occur in a pattern.
An international team led by researchers from the Jodrell Bank Observatory used the famed 76-meter Lovell Telescope and have put forward some new research on their long-term radio monitoring campaign that was published earlier this week in the academic journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.