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World News May 13, 2023

Astronomers find clues to source of fast radio bursts

A group of international astronomers has conducted a 17-month study of a repeating fast radio burst (FRB) from a distant galaxy, revealing that it underwent two magnetic field reversals, providing insights into its origins. The findings, published in the journal Science on Friday, suggest that the FRB source may orbit in a binary star system, with its companion star possibly being a black hole or a massive star.

FRBs are the brightest radio bursts known in the universe, lasting only several milliseconds. However, their precise origins remain a mystery and are the subject of ongoing research.
The study was carried out by scientists from the National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with overseas counterparts. They targeted a repeating FRB, named FRB 20190520B, which was discovered by the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), also known as the “China Sky Eye.”
By monitoring the FRB with telescopes located in Australia and the United States, the team detected hundreds of bursts and found that its magnetic field strength, measured by its Faraday rotation measure, was highly variable and reversed direction twice.

Feng Yi, a team member from the research institute Zhejiang Lab, said that the extreme reversal of the magnetic field indicates that FRB 20190520B may be in a binary star system, with its companion star potentially being a black hole or a massive star. Feng said, understanding these changes in the magnetized environment around FRBs is a crucial step forward in clarifying their origins.

Sources: CGTN

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