Magnetar SGR 1935+2154, located in our Milky Way, has allegedly emitted fast radio bursts again, says a report in The Astronomer’s Telegram, a website dedicated to new astronomical observations.
On 8 October, the CHIME radio telescope, located in Canada, caught the magnetar emitting three millisecond radio bursts and the next day the FAST telescope, located in China, detected radio pulses coming from SGR 1935+2154. Scientists say the findings, which may bring astronomers closer to solving the mystery surrounding fast radio bursts, are now being examined by other researchers.
"It's really exciting to see SGR 1935+2154 back again, and I'm optimistic that as we study these bursts more carefully, it will help us better understand the potential relationship between magnetars and fast radio bursts", astronomer Deborah Good of the University of British Columbia in Canada, and member of the CHIME/FRB, told ScienceAlert.
Until recently fast radio bursts (FRB) had only previously been detected outside our galaxy, with sources located millions of light-years away from Earth. In April, a group of international scientists discovered FRBs coming from a source in the Milky Way – Magnetar SGR 1935+2154. Scientists had never seen magnetar emitting radio bursts and no known source was caught sending FRBs again.
According to Deborah Good, the newly detected bursts are less powerful than those detected in April, but they are still incredibly strong.
"Although less bright than the detection earlier this year, these are still very bright bursts which we'd see if they were extragalactic. One of the most interesting aspects of this detection is that our three bursts seem to have occurred within one rotation period. The magnetar is known to rotate once every 3.24 seconds, but our first and second bursts were separated by 0.954 seconds, and the second and third were separated by 1.949 seconds. That's a bit unusual, and I think it's something that we'll be looking into further going forward", said Deborah Good.
A magnetar is a type of a neutron star (a giant star that runs out of fuel and collapses) that has an extremely powerful magnetic field. According to NASA, a magnetar's magnetic field is one thousand trillion times stronger that of the Earth and it heats the star's surface to 18 million degrees Fahrenheit. There are currently 24 confirmed magnetars and 6 celestial bodies await confirmation.
Scientists have been trying to understand the phenomenon of FRBs since 2007, when they were first detected. Researchers are still uncertain about the origin and cause of these radio waves, with proposals ranging from black holes and magnetars to signals from extraterrestrial civilisations.