Yet another radio wave burst in space has captured the attention of scientists because of the information we may get through it about its source. Called fast radio bursts, signals such as these have been one of the hardest to understand phenomenons in astrophysics because they are very difficult to study. They only last about a millisecond, so telescopes usually do not focus on them fast enough to get a good look at them. Fast radio bursts were thought to come from an event in a very distant galaxy, but this view has changed. In late April, a new burst that was detected by a mix of satellites seems to be scientists’ biggest clue they could yet find about its source, which might be right here in the Milky Way.
As it was reported in the Nature magazine, papers that have not been peer-reviewed so far are flooding the arXiv preprint server, as they are analyzing a burst from a magnetar star in our galaxy. The star is known as SGR 1935+2154. This new proof for a fast radio burst coming from a magnetar star in the Milky Way is absolutely mesmerizing. Such were the words of Avi Loeb, the chair of the astronomy department in Harvard. He told this to Salon via email.
For a long time, astrophysicists have suspected that a magnetar, which is a type of neutron star with a highly powerful magnetic field. This could be the source of fast radio bursts, but, so far, there has not been any evidence to support this claim.
Emily Petroff, an astronomer affiliated with the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, told Nature magazine that she would not say that the fact that fast radio bursts come from magnetars is definitive proof in the affair. She has explained, however, that this is the most important piece of evidence that was found.