Astronomy Cosmology News

With a signal (at last!), mystery around fast radio bursts only deepens

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artist’s rendering of Swift detecting FRB/Spectrum Astro/NASA

Most perplexing mystery in astronomy. From Elizabeth Gibney at Nature:

What causes split-second blasts of radio waves that appear in the sky from billions of light years away is one of the most perplexing mysteries in astronomy. Now, for the first time, astronomers have seen a flash of high-energy γ-rays [gamma rays] that looks as if it was emitted by the same event that produced a fast radio burst (FRB) — a correlation that was predicted to help whittle down the zoo of possible explanations for the origin of FRBs.

“If FRBs have γ-ray counterparts, it would be hugely constraining of models and extremely interesting,” says Victoria Kaspi, an astrophysicist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

But as well as exciting astronomers, the nature of this particular finding offers no clear answers and deepens the FRB riddle. “The association, should it turn out to be true, is an entirely unexpected and astonishing development,” says Shri Kulkarni, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. More.

This is a serious mystery, not like the Wow! signal or faces on Mars. The fact that it hasn’t been overly sensationalized offers some hope that it may amount to something and lead somewhere.

See also: Is E.T. calling us? Stay tuned!

and

Wow! signal from comets, not space aliens?

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