A “heartbeat” seen billions of light years away

A "heartbeat" seen billions of light years away

The SSR Very energetic pulses of radio waves, but very short: they usually last only a few milliseconds. They emit as much energy in one millisecond as the Sun emits in 10,000 years.

The eruption was detected on December 21, 2019 Using the CHIME telescope Noticing something unusual in the collected data, Daniel quickly caught Micheli’s attention.

The scientist and his colleagues found the new signal, FRB 20191221A, lasting up to three seconds, about 1000 times longer than the average burst detected so far.

Not only was it very long, but there were remarkably precisely timed peaks that every fraction of a second—boom, boom, boom—fired like a heartbeat.Daniel Michilli explains in a press release issued by McGill University.

It is currently the longest-period FRB with a clear periodic pattern detected to date. […] This is the first time that the signal itself is periodic. »

A quote Daniel Micheli, researcher at McGill University

The team now hopes to detect more periodic signals from this source, which can then be used as an astrophysical clock.

Using the frequency of the explosions and how they change as the source moves away from Earth, we can calculate how fast the universe is expanding. »

A quote Daniel Micheli, researcher at McGill University

Sources of strictly periodic signals are extremely rare in the universe.

Examples we know of in our own galaxy are radio pulsars and magnetars that spin and produce a beam of emission similar to a lighthouse. We think this new signal could be a magnet or pulsar on steroids.Aaron Perlman of the McGill Space Institute, who contributed to the article, says:

First SRR Observed in 2007, and Its source, a distant dwarf galaxy, was determined in 2017.

Details of the work have been published in the journal Nature (new window) (in English).

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