The first ever “fast radio burst” to come from a star within the Milky Way signaled its existence earlier this year, according to a study recently published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Live Science reports that the dead star, located on the other side of the Milky Way, made its presence known on April 28. The mixture of radio and X-ray energy that the dead star expelled 30,000 years ago made its way over Earth.
Its appearance lasted half a second, but was long enough for observatories to recognize the sighting.
FRBs were discovered in 2007, according to Live Science. They emit bursts of radio waves that last a few milliseconds, but generate more energy in that time than Earth’s sun does in a century, according to scientists.
It is unknown what causes the blasts. Scientists have suggested they come from colliding black holes or even the pulse of alien starships. Before April’s FRB, all other ones have originated from other galaxies located hundreds of millions of light-years away.
Scientists say that based off telescope observations, this blast came from a known neutron star located about 30,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Vulpecula.
According to the study, the stellar remnant fits into an even stranger class of star called a magnetar, named for its incredibly powerful magnetic field, which is capable of spitting out intense amounts of energy long after the star itself has died. Authors of the study wrote that they believe magnetars are almost certainly the source of at least some of the FRBs.
“We’ve never seen a burst of radio waves, resembling a fast radio burst, from a magnetar before,” lead study author Sandro Mereghetti, of the National Institute for Astrophysics in Milan, Italy, said in a statement. “This is the first ever observational connection between magnetars and fast radio bursts.”
The magnetar that the FRB came from was discovered in 2014.
Sandro and his colleagues saw the burst with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Integral satellite. They weren’t the only ones who saw it. A radio telescope in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada, detected a blast of radio waves coming from the same source and so did radio telescopes in California and Utah.Related Stories:
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