Earlier this month, scientists and astronomers were successful at detecting three new fast radio burst signals. However, what makes one of them particularly interesting is that it’s the most powerful fast radio burst ever captured.
According to the report in Science Alert, the fast radio burst (FRB) signal was the highest ever recorded since they were initially spotted in 2007. The newly discovered signal is referred to as FRB 18309. The astronomers observed it on March 9 after observing another signal FRB 180301 on March 1. Signal FRB 180311 was observed two days later on March 11. The signals were named after the day they were observed.
— Fraser Cain (@fcain) March 14, 2018
Astronomers used Parkes Observatory radio telescope that is located in New South Wales, Australia to record all three fast radio burst signals. The first fast radio burst occurred in 2001, however, astronomers only discovered the recording data of it in 2007, RT reports.
After documenting this phenomenon, for the next 11 years scientists managed to capture FRBs from 33 sources, which also includes the three bursts from earlier this month. Scientists capture less than three FRBs throughout a year, on average. That makes the recent discoveries quite interesting.
Compared to the other two, FRB 180309 became the center of interest of the scientists because of its strength. Its signal-to-noise ratio came in at 411, more than four times stronger as opposed to the strongest FRB before that, which had a ratio of only 90. According to RT, many of the other bursts that occurred in the previous years had ratios under 20.
Fast radio burst signals, are mostly events that don’t repeat themselves. However, scientists recorded one exception. On November 2, 2012, scientists recorded FRB 121102 which was the first and only signal that repeated itself. Those signals last only a few milliseconds, and they occur without any kind of warning. This makes them “impossible to predict,” as per the report in Science Alert.
How these signals form and where their sources are, still puzzles scientists. They are working hard to determine their origin and what is the reason behind their existence. Earlier this month, an interesting new theory emerged as reported by Gizmodo Australia. The theory looks into the origin of FRBs and suggests that those bursts are used by different forms of extraterrestrial life in the universe, in order to power up their spacecraft.
Nevertheless, Danny Price of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence spoke soon after that report that scientists are still exploring the theories that revolve around cataclysmic events like the collision of black holes or neutron stars.
“What can produce such bursts? We don’t know yet, but leading theories involve neutron stars and cataclysmic events. There’s also a neat theory that they are due to interstellar extraterrestrial travel. We’d love that to be the case, but have to rule out all plausible astrophysical theories first,” Danny wrote. “Our observations should help solve the mystery of FRBs. The Breakthrough Listen digital systems recorded the raw voltages from this new FRB, which will let us look at the burst in finer detail than has been done in the past.”