Enigmatic radio signal from a distant galaxy spotted

A mysterious radio signal resembling a heartbeat has arrived from the far reaches of space , reports CNN relayed by Slate . This transmission, which was intercepted on December 21, 2019 by a group of astronomers, was detailed in a Nature article published on Wednesday.

The signal was captured using the Canadian radio telescope called CHIME. Its function is to analyze the radio waves emitted by distant hydrogen. In this case, unusual fast radio bursts (or fast radio bursts, FRBs) were detected. The first fast radio bursts were discovered in 2007. Since then, astronomers have been able to catalog hundreds of these fast cosmic flashes from various points in the universe .

“Boom, boom, boom”

While these fast bursts usually last only a few milliseconds before fading, astronomers came across an atypical FRB signal. Named FRB 20191221A, the signal lasted for up to three seconds, about 1,000 times longer than typical fast radio bursts. “There were periodic spikes that were remarkably precise, emitting every fraction of a second – boom, boom, boom – like a heartbeat. This is the first time that the signal itself has been periodic,” detailed Daniele Michilli, post-doctoral researcher at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Difficult to determine exactly the origin of this signal. It would come from a galaxy located 1 billion light-years away. But this projection is uncertain, point out the scientists. However, the researchers believe that the signal comes from emissions emitted by two different types of neutron stars called radio pulsars and magnetars. In the case of FRB 20191221A, the source is surrounded by “a cloud of plasma which must be extremely turbulent. »

With rapid bursts, in a few milliseconds, the equivalent of the energy of 500 million suns is emitted.