Mysterious radio bursts from deep space repeat exactly on schedule

Scientists still cannot determine the nature of these impulses.

Earlier this year, astronomers announced about an amazing discovery. The fast radio burst, called FRB 121102, was repeated every 157 days. At the same time, FRB 121102 demonstrates multiple bursts during a period of about 90 days, and then lulls for about 67 days.

However, despite the revealed pattern, there was no guarantee that this cycle would continue. But this has happened once again. On August 17, a team led by Pei Wang of the National Astronomical Observatory of China detected 12 bursts from FRB 121102 with FAST (Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope) – the world’s largest filled aperture telescope – 12 bursts from FRB 121102, indicating that the source is again in active phase. 

According to the calculations of Wang’s team, the active phase should end between August 31 and September 9, 2020. If FRB 121102 continues to be active after these dates, this may mean that the frequency is either calculated incorrectly, or it has changed in some way.

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FRB is one of the most fascinating mysteries of space. These are extremely powerful radio signals from deep space, galaxies millions of light-years from Earth. Some of them emit more energy than 500 million suns. But at the same time, they last a fraction of a second, and most of them do not repeat, which makes them very difficult to predict, track and therefore understand, although scientists have advanced in tracking such one-time bursts.

So far, possible explanations for these powerful signals have included neutron stars, black holes, companion pulsars, exploding pulsars, magnetars, and even aliens.


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