For the second time, repeated energy bursts have been detected. Rapid radio bursts or FRBs are temporary and random radio emissions, which make them not only difficult to find, but also difficult to study.
The latest signals to be detected reached the Earth 1,5 billion light years away from a galaxy. The flashes last only one millisecond, but they are released with the same energy that the sun takes 12 months to produce.
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Experts have discussed whether black holes or super-dense neutron stars are responsible, but others have suggested theories that are more strange. There is no evidence right now that FRBs are anything but astrophysical sources such as a young magnetar with an insane magnetic field.
FRBs were first accidentally detected in 2007 when the radio astronomy data collected in 2001 detected a burst signal. The new discovery, reported in the journal Nature, was made by a team of Canadian astronomers who were chasing FRBs.
For three weeks last summer, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (Chime) detected 13 of the flashes using a new radio telescope type. They found one of the FRBs repeating. Of the more than 60 FRBs detected to date, the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico only collected these repeated bursts once before.
Where the FRBs come from is unknown-although millions of light years outside our galaxy, the Milky Way, are supposed to emanate from sources. There are a number of theories concerning what might cause them. They include a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that spins very fast, two neutron stars that merge together and some form of an alien spacecraft among a minority of observers.