Scientists find dwarf galaxy to be the source of mysterious Fast Radio Bursts

This is the first time that researchers have some kind of an idea about the origin of FRBs, which have baffled them since 2007.

Picture for representation
Picture for representation Reuters

2017, till now, has been a fantastic year for astronomy. After researchers discovered two mysterious objects moving towards Earth, scientists are going bonkers after they traced mysterious Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) to a dwarf galaxy 2.5 billion light-years from Earth earlier this week.

This is the first time that researchers have some kind of an idea about the origin of FRBs, which have baffled them since 2007 when the pulses were first detected.

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"This really is the first ironclad association of a fast radio burst, with another astronomical source, so it's a pretty huge result," said astronomer Duncan Lorimer, who was the first one to detect FRBs, according to The Washington Post.

What are FRBs

A fast radio burst is a brief pulse of radio waves having the energy of 500 million suns. It is said that if humans were able to see these waves, the sky would have appeared like a disco ball.

While some scientists believe that the FRBs are caused by the explosion of distant super dense suns, others argue that they are originated our own galaxy. Another set of experts believes that the waves are caused by catastrophic events in space like a supernova or a collision of two stars.

How did it happen?

Researchers were studying the data from Arecibo Observatory, one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, when they noticed mysterious bursts, later identified as FRB 121102, repeatedly coming from the same spot in the space. They immediately notified scientists at the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico who, in turn, started studying the waves with a network of 27 radio telescopes spread over a 20-mile-wide area. It was on 4 January, that the scientists at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii concluded that the waves were coming from a very faint dwarf galaxy, which is 2.5 billion light years away.

"I am not exaggerating when I say there are more models for what FRBs could be than there are FRBs," said Cornell astronomer Shami Chatterjee, as reported by The Washington Post.

"Nine pulses captured with two telescopes — now we have enormous resolution...We've pinpointed a speck, to a 10th of an arcsecond [a unit of angular measurement] . . . where the burst is coming from," added the astronomer.

Experts hope that this marvellous finding will open up new horizons in the study of cosmos. It is believed that understanding the mysterious voids between galaxies as well as mapping the distribution of matter across the universe will be easy after closely studying these high-energy astrophysical pulses.