DR. SKY BLOG

Fast radio bursts make up the most powerful signals from space

May 12, 2021, 2:00 PM
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)...
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

One of the most amazing phenomena in astronomy is the mysterious burst of energy known as fast radio burst.

First detected in 2007, these millisecond pulses of intense energy were once thought to be background emissions from human sources, such as radar and microwave installations.

Recent research into the topic tends to agree that the source is of a cosmic nature.

One theory links these powerful broadcasts to alien civilizations deep in the heart of distant galaxies.

If that were true, the source of generating these amazing amounts of energy is hard for most humans to comprehend.

Just how powerful are these bursts?

If the burst was of the gamma-ray variety, a one-second burst releases more energy than our sun does in a billion years.

What might be the mechanism behind these bursts?

There is speculation that the energy mechanism might be the collision of two black holes, pulsar collapse, or a new variety of a highly charged magnetic star known as a magnetar.

These fast radio bursts have been detected only a few times.

The Molongo radio telescope in Australia has been searching the sky for more of these bursts. In one evening of observation, this radio telescope can capture well over 1,000 terabytes of data.

In comparison, all the data pages on Wikipedia contain some 5.87 terabytes of data.

This amazing data pool is then carefully searched for these faint millisecond pulses in the night.

Well, at least we know that the signals are not from the microwave oven down the hall!

Here are the sounds of a fast radio burst from space.

Recently, fast radio bursts have been detected which seem to repeat every 16 days or so.

Learn much more about the most recent discoveries regarding FRBs here.

A most recent discovery places a fast radio burst well within our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Up til now, FRBs have been detected in the higher radio frequency range. FRBs are also being detected at lower radio frequency ranges.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

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Fast radio bursts make up the most powerful signals from space