Fast radio bursts` may be coming from nearby stars

Last Updated: Friday, December 13, 2013 - 11:30

Washington: Researchers have claimed that "fast radio bursts", lasting for only a thousandth of a second, may be coming from within our own galaxy, and not from galaxies billions of light-years away as previously believed.

Lead author Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), said that they propose that fast radio bursts aren`t as exotic as astronomers first thought.

A detailed analysis of the bursts showed that the pulses passed through a large column of electrons on their way to Earth. If those electrons were spread out across intergalactic space, then the pulses must have crossed billions of light-years.

As a result, they would have to come from extremely energetic events. Gamma-ray bursts don`t produce the right radio frequencies, so astronomers looked to other extreme events like the collapse of a neutron star into a black hole.

Loeb and his colleagues reasoned that if the bursts came from a closer location, within the Milky Way galaxy, then they wouldn`t require as much energy. The explanation could be more mundane.

To test their theory Loeb and his colleagues searched the locations of three fast radio bursts to look for variable stars, using the telescopes at Tel-Aviv University`s Wise Observatory, in Israel.

They discovered a contact binary system in one location. The binary consists of two Sun-like stars orbiting each other every 7.8 hours. They are located about 2,600 light-years from Earth. Statistics of stars across the observed field of view show that there is less than a 5 percent chance that the binary star is in the right place by coincidence.


First Published: Friday, December 13, 2013 - 11:30

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