According to a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, fast radio bursts or FRBs, once thought rare, may actually be very common and happening every second across the universe.
Fast Radio Bursts, Rare or Common, Still a Mystery
The phenomenon called fast radio bursts was discovered back in 2001. Since then, researchers have been unable to determine their exact cause. Each burst only lasts a few milliseconds, and most only once. However, there are some exceptions. For example, one source, FRB 121102, was noted to have produced 34 of them since 2002.
That particular source is somewhere in a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years away. According to this latest study on the matter, this may be the norm rather than the exception. Namely, fast radio bursts might be quite common, even if it is rare for us to detect them.
The question, as pointed out by scientists, then becomes what kind of information they can provide about space or even the origin of the universe. This new research was conducted by two researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Anastasia Fialkov, who led the study, explains that: “If we are right about such a high rate of FRBs happening at any given time, you can imagine the sky is filled with flashes like paparazzi taking photos of a celebrity. Instead of the light, we can see with our eyes, these flashes come in radio waves.”
Fast radio bursts are “like incredibly powerful flashlights” according to Fialkov. She explained that researchers believe that FRBs might be able to “penetrate this fog”. They might even be “seen over vast distances,” she added. Because of this, FRBs might be a gateway into taking a glance at the early stages of the Universe.
Avi Loeb, a study co-author, continued by stating that: “If we can study even a fraction of those [fast radio bursts] well enough, we should be able to unravel their origin.”
Image Source: Wikimedia