Billions of light years from Earth, something emits radio signals that are received on Earth. It’s not as strange as it might seem at first glance, but that these signals are coming always every 157 days Yes. In fact, there is only one other case in which the signals are periodic and in both situations astronomers don’t know why this happens.
This is fast radio bursts (FRB), reports that astronomers have been capturing for years, but without knowing exactly why they are happening in space. Fast radio bursts are lightning bolts that last only a few milliseconds but release as much energy at this point as our Sun did a century ago. The first time an FRB was detected was in 2007 and since then more than 100 have been discovered. Its origin remains a mystery.
More than 100 FRB discovered to date only that and one more are periodic. All the others were recorded once and that’s it, so it is understood that they are due to an explosion that occurred in space at some point in the Universe. But if the signal is reproduced in the same pattern every 157 days… it can’t be just an explosion. There are theories of all kinds, from another star interfering in the continuous signal to modulate its periodicity, to more outlandish ideas.
Radio signals arrive in cycles
Earlier, in February of the same year, astronomers discovered a signal that arrived every 16 days. More precisely was recorded for 4 days and 12 days, there was no recording. The options considered to explain this specific burst are that the star that emits it is orbiting a black hole that traps the signal for 12 days, or that it is a binary star system where the larger traps the signals of the little ones for 12 days. days. It all revolves around the idea that something stands between us and the signal for 12 days due to the orbit of the emitting object.
The Arecibo Observatory, due to its magnitgud, is one of the most used to capture FRBs.
New fast radio broke constantly repeated 157 It was named FRB 121102 and was first recorded in 2012 by Puerto Rico’s Arecibo radio telescope. Since then, researchers have studied it for more than five years to now confirm that it is a periodic FRB that arrives every 157 days.
Example of how a set of binary stars could cause the signal to arrive periodically. Via Kristi Mickaliger.
The theory is that signal comes for about 90 days, then there is silence for about 67 days, thus completing a cycle of 157 days. Besides Arecibo in Puerto Rico, other facilities have also managed to receive the signal in these years, including the gigantic new FAST telescope in China.
The new cycle is about to begin Once again this week, researchers hope that studying this rapid radio burst will help us better understand this cosmic phenomenon from deep space.