Newfound Radio Signal Seems to Resemble Heartbeats

Newfound Radio Signal Seems to Resemble Heartbeats
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The name FRB 20191221A might not tell you anything, and it’s perfectly understandable. It’s the moniker of a newfound radio signal reaching us from the depths of space, and it’s challenging astronomers’ understanding of such phenomenons by resembling heartbeats. 

ScienceAlert brings the news of the new FRB (Fast Radio Burst) in question. Astronomers discovered the new FRB back in 2019 using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) interferometric radio telescope. The radio flashes that are received reach a duration of three seconds, meaning a lot longer than average. What’s indeed unique about the FRB 20191221A is that bursts of higher intensity radiation occur once every fraction of a second (0.2 seconds, to be more precise) within the duration of three seconds.

Now, if you think that the comparison with heartbeats is exaggerated, check out what Daniele Michilli, an astrophysicist from the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, has to say:

It was unusual,

Not only was it very long, lasting about three seconds, but there were periodic peaks that were remarkably precise, emitting every fraction of a second – boom, boom, boom – like a heartbeat. This is the first time the signal itself is periodic.

Do you need another reason to consider that the future of space exploration sounds good? Feel free to check out another important statement issued by Michilli, as the same source quotes:

This detection raises the question of what could cause this extreme signal that we’ve never seen before, and how can we use this signal to study the universe,

Future telescopes promise to discover thousands of FRBs a month, and at that point we may find many more of these periodic signals.

The new study was presented in Nature.


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Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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