Astronomers were able to explain the mysterious radio message from space


2019-03-11 23:00:15




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Astronomers were able to explain the mysterious radio message from space

Somewhere in the beginning of this year Brian Metzger realized that he was by himself — no incoming messages, no lessons — and that maybe, just maybe he got the answer to one of the most persistent mysteries of astronomy. He flew into a rage and tried to cling to that answer, worrying that a small mistake can ruin everything, or that someone else will make all the pieces together first. "Trying to keep up because other people might see it, too," says Metzger, an astrophysicist at Columbia University.

Together with many other scientists around the world Metzer spent the last few years, brainstorming, trying to understand the fast radio bursts (FRB). It's a millisecond flash of intense and unexplained radio signals, which spread all over the sky, temporarily eclipsing radio pulsars in our galaxy, despite the fact that are millions of times further. Until 2013, many astrophysicists doubted their existence. Over the years, scientists have led dozens of possible explanations could be the reason for their appearance. One catalog has 48 individual theories.

That is, of the theories was more than the events themselves, which they tried to explain.


Fast radio bursts: what is it?

The FRB need Theory in two parts. Have a suspect — astrophysical monster that can unleash huge amounts of energy. Have gun — something that converts this energy into a bright, amazing and unusual radio signal.

Now that Metzger and his colleagues believe that I was able to restore the crime scene. Earlier this month they published on the website of preprints an article in which he sketched out how a fast radio bursts from explosions in the areas of space, dotted with dense clouds of particles and magnetic fields.

Their model prefers but does not require Magnetar as the source of the explosions. A Magnetar is a young neutron star, which sometimes belches charged particles in the form of a huge version of the coronal mass ejection occurring on . Each new explosion slams into the surrounding clutter. When this happens, a shock wave is born, which, in turn, emits a short laser-like flash of radio waves into the universe.

"In General it definitely makes sense," says James Corden, an astrophysicist at Cornell University, adding, however, that further details need to be elaborated upon. "I would say that's a good horse, you can put".

However, what astronomers really like is the fact that Metzger's theory generates very specific predictions about how the future should look like FRB. Therefore, these predictions can be checked by testing. New canadian radio telescope for CHIME, expected to find from one to ten FRB in a day when operating at full capacity at the end of this year. During initial tests last summer, he found a dozen flares. The results of his work . "I think over the next year or so we will be able very well to check it out," says Shreeharsh Tendulkar, an astrophysicist at McGill University, team member CHIME FRB.


At the speed of a shock wave

The Theory was developed by Megarom and his colleagues Ben Margalita and Lorenzo sironi, based on the biggest breakthrough in FRB. In 2016, the team, led by Laura Spitler from the Institute max Planck of radio astronomy in Bonn, Germany, published their findings in studying the early history repeated FRB. Previously each of these events was rare. Because of this, astronomers were not able to keep track of where in the sky they were born, so knew nothing about the flashes, though, and suspected that they appear far outside our galaxy. But one flash appeared after the other.

And soon radio astronomers were able to discover its origin in a small, deformed dwarf galaxy. Trying to squeeze every hint of these radio signals, they discovered that all are born in the dense region of the plasma, seized by powerful magnetic fields. They also found that the surge was surrounded by a dim, but steady radioveschanie. And last November, astronomer Jason Hessels (along with Spillerom and others) noticed something strange: each burst in a fraction of a second actually contains several podoplelov, which gradually shifted down from higher to lower radio frequencies.

For the team Methara this last hint seemed surprisingly familiar. In the 1950-ies, physicists have studied the shockwaves of nuclear explosions to gauge their power output. In these models, shock fronts, nuclear explosions absorb more gas, extending outward. This additional weight slows down the shot and as he slowed, emitted from the shock front radiation is shifted down in frequency due to the Doppler effect.

Metger thought that this effect of the blast wave may hint at the true nature of FRB. And then, suddenly, in early January, the CHIME telescope picked up another recurring event. This time repeating the radio signals showed the same downward frequency shift. "The idea originated with the first repetition," says Metzger. "But seeing this demonstration in FRB, I earned twice the pace".

Now, Metzger, Margalit and sironi has released its complete model based mostly on the explanation of the inputs and outputs from the first repetition. Imagine a Magnetar, a neutron star the size of a city, forged in a supernova for a fewdecades before, with boiling and heaving surface. Like sunshine on a rainy day, this young Magnetar produces random spikes, which shoot electrons, positrons and maybe even heavy ions at speeds close to the speed of light.

When this material starts, he is faced with the older particles emitted in previous outbursts. Where a new release is faced with the old, it accumulates a shock shock, inside which the raging of the magnetic field. When the shock is pushed outward, the electrons of the spin along the magnetic field lines, and this movement produces a burst of radio waves. Shock because the shock is slowing down, the signal is shifted from higher frequencies to lower ones. And astronomers on Earth spectacular radio message.

And while all of this sounds interesting, the idea will have to go through the next phase of testing in the history of the fast radio bursts. While this is the calculable and well thought out script. "They made the most detailed calculations and were able to give specific predictions for observations," says Spitler.

Megara Model predicts a number of specific features that should have a future FRB. First, all future FRB must follow the same decreasing frequency. Can they show gamma-radiation or x-ray emission that astronomers like Spitler have already started to look. They must reside in galaxies, which formed many new stars appear fresh Magnetar. And when they do repeat, they have to take breaks after astronomers have observed a large flash. At this point the system is so jammed with material that the subsequent outbreak can not escape.

Now the model Megara is faced with many other still viable theories. Fast radio bursts may be the result of mergers of neutron stars, which the telescopes and detectors of gravitational waves for the first time caught in 2017. Neutron stars can give rise to the FRB, colliding with other objects such as black holes and white dwarfs, when they themselves are quanta collapse into the dark black holes or when their magnetic lines of force break the strong plasma flows.

And it is unclear whether the FRB appear all of one type of event.

The Data continue to accumulate, the field narrows. Over the past five months, while CHIME was in the stage of commissioning, the researchers found more bursts, which they have not yet presented to the public.

After several years of studying disparate data and theoretical dreams, the decision was finally at arm's length

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