The Sciences

Getting Closer to Solving the Mystery of FRBs

Repeating FRB 121102 seems like it must be coming from somewhere near a strong magnetic field.

By Bill AndrewsJan 1, 2019 12:00 PM
(Credit: Danielle Futselaar and John M. Chase/Shutterstock)

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

Thanks to a January study in Nature, we’re finally starting to understand fast radio bursts (FRBs). Astronomers first noticed the milliseconds-long intense pulses of radio waves in 2006, but had learned little since. The new research analyzed emissions from a source known as FRB 121102 — the only known FRB that repeats — and determined it must be near an exceptionally strong magnetic field. Possible causes include a massive black hole, a supernova remnant (the leftovers of an exploded star) and a highly magnetized cloud of gas and dust. The authors further speculated that FRB 121102 could be a neutron star housed within one of these extreme environments. The finding doesn’t reveal the pulses’ ultimate cause, however, so astronomers still need more FRBs to study. Luckily, an October Nature paper described 20 new FRBs, so we may soon have even more answers.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.