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Recently, an international team of astronomers studied repeating Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), FRB 20190520B, using the Green Bank Telescope in the U.S. and the Parkes Observatory in Australia. The report was published in the journal Science.

What are Fast Radio Bursts?

  • They are mysterious emissions of radio light (or Radio Waves) that come from the far reaches of the universe.
  • FRBs reach Earth from faraway galaxies, emitting as much energy in a millisecond as the sun does over weeks.
  • They are the brightest radio bursts found in nature.
  • Astrophysicists have only been able to 'see' FRBs momentarily using large radio telescopes, but their precise origins and causes are unknown.
  • Some FRBs are 'one-off' phenomena, while others are repeaters, flashing earth intermittently.

What are the Key Highlights of the Study?

Highly Variable Faraday Rotation Measure:

The astronomers discovered that the Faraday rotation measure of the repeating FRB 20190520B was highly variable and reversed direction twice.

This measure is an indicator of the FRB's magnetic field strength.

Binary Star System:

The variation in the FRB's magnetic field strength and the direction of the reversal led the researchers to conclude that the FRB source is likely orbiting a binary star system, where the companion star is possibly a massive star or a black hole.

This led to the raising of the possibility that "all repeating FRBs could be in binaries." However, further monitoring and research are required to confirm this hypothesis.

Turbulent Magnetized Plasma Environment:

The observed changes in the magnetic field and electron density around the FRB source suggest the presence of a turbulent magnetized plasma environment.

This environment likely influences the behavior of the FRB signals.

Importance of Radio Telescopes:

The study underscores the significance of advanced radio telescopes in studying FRBs and other intergalactic phenomena.

These telescopes, such as the Very Large Array and the Deep Synoptic Array-110, enable precise localization of FRBs and provide valuable data for understanding their sources and characteristics.

Unraveling Cosmic Mysteries:

The study emphasizes the role of radio astronomy in unraveling cosmic mysteries and deepening our understanding of the universe.