For the past decade, astronomers have been inching ever closer to answering a most puzzling question: what is the origin of the mysterious, high-energy, radio signals that ping Earth and then, more often than not, vanish without a trace. All sorts of theories have been proposed to explain these fast radio bursts, or FRBs:, because of course, exotic physics, … there’s a laundry list of potential explanations. ( )
In November 2020, a suite of papers in the journal Natureof the first FRB emanating from our home galaxy. That detection implicated magnetars, an unusual type of dead star, as the cause of the millisecond bursts. However, the connection has yet to be definitively proven, and so astronomers keep on searching.
In a new paper, set to be published in the Astrophysical Journal and available as a preprint on arXiv, observations with NASA’s workhorse Hubble Space Telescope have helped researchers to pinpoint the location of five FRBs to the spiral arms of distant galaxies. The team looked at eight FRBs, most of which were first detected in 2019 and 2020, but the locations of three of them remain enigmatic.
“This is the first high-resolution view of a population of FRBs,” said Alexandra Mannings, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the paper’s lead author…Read more>>