Mysterious Fast Radio Burst Has Repeated On A Predicted Cycle — But Why?


The projected turn-off date for FRB 121102 now is around August 31 – September 9, 2020
,” if it stays on its previous repeating cycle.

— National Astronomy Observatory of China, Beijing

 

August 26, 2020 Albuquerque, New Mexico – Two months ago on June 21, 2020, Earthfiles reported that at least one Fast Radio Burst known as 121102 FRB was reported by the U. K.’s Jodrell Bank Observatory as having a puzzling, repeating 157-day-cycle. Each radio burst from FRB 121102 lasted approximately 90 days, depicted by the turquoise energy lines pulsing from outer space to the Earth radio receiving dish.

Orbital modulation model where the FRB progenitor is in turquoise blue orbiting with a companion astrophysical object in pink. Illustration by Kristi Mickaliger, Manchester University. Click on image to enlarge.
Orbital modulation model where the FRB progenitor is in turquoise blue orbiting with a companion astrophysical object in pink. Illustration by Kristi Mickaliger, Manchester University. Click on image to enlarge.

Next was silence for 67 days. After the silence came more Fast Radio Bursts for 90 days. Then silence —  on and on. No one knows how or why such enormous bursts of radio energy would be emitted in a precise, cyclic and repeating pattern. That cycle was not publicly reported until 2020. Out of 100 known FRBs, 121102 and one other are the only ones known to have a cycle of energy bursts so precise that the recent bursts from 121102 FRB were right on schedule for this month. On August 17, 2020, China’s National Astronomy Observatory detected twelve new radio bursts from FRB 121102. The repeating cyclic pattern is estimated to be 157 — or 156 — days. That means the FRB should end its active bursting phase between August 31 and September 9, 2020.

Fast Radio Burst frequencies reaching Earth for 1/1000th of a second with the energy of 500 million suns like the yellow sun around which our solar system orbits. Illustration by Project Breakthrough.
Fast Radio Burst frequencies coming through 3 billion light-years of space from dwarf galaxy to Earth for 1/1000th of a second with the energy of 500 million suns like the yellow sun around which our solar system orbits. Each radio burst in turquoise lasts for approximately 90 Earth days. Illustration by Project Breakthrough.

 

What Is Causing Precise, Cyclic Pattern of Fast Radio Burst 121102?

FRB121102 is one of only two Fast Radio Bursts that have been found to repeat so far on a precise cycle. What is causing that cycle? Image by Rogello Bernal Andreo/DeepSkyColors.com.
FRB 121102 is one of only two Fast Radio Bursts that have been found to repeat so far on a predictable cycle. What is causing that cycle? Image by Rogello Bernal Andreo, DeepSkyColors.com. Click on image to enlarge.

Scientists now want to see if there are any bursts from FRB 121102 beyond September 9th. If that happens, then either there is no true predictable, precise pattern — or the cycle has changed for reasons unknown. Scientists still do not know what the source of Fast Radio Bursts are. But the dwarf galaxy in which FRB 121102 has kept pulsing in a seemingly repeating pattern is at least 3 billion light-years from Earth.

 

Gemini, Hubble and Spitzer Images of Dwarf Galaxy Host of FRB 121102

Gemini, Hubble, and Spitzer images of the irregular, low-metallicity dwarf galaxy host of FRB 121102. The HST images, in particular, reveal a knot of star formation located on the outer regions of the host galaxy coincident with the milliarcsecond radio localization of FRB 121102 (Marcote et al. 2017) and the associated persistent radio source whose nature remains undecided so far.
Gemini, Hubble, and Spitzer images of “the irregular, low-metallicity dwarf galaxy host of FRB 121102. The Hubble images, in particular, reveal “a knot of star formation located on the outer regions of the host galaxy” exactly where the milli-arcsecond radio bursts of FRB 121102 are. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 2017.

The Astrophysical Journal Letters:  “In an unexpected pay-off to follow-up investigations, additional Fast Radio Bursts were found from the same sky position as FRB 121102 with the same pulse dispersion measure, thereby unambiguously identifying FRB 121102 as a repeating source and demonstrating that the source of the bursts survives the release of energy required to produce them. Yet more bursts were found with both the Arecibo and Green Bank telescopes, but no obvious counterparts were detectable in X-ray, optical, or radio imaging observations of the field.”

 

Are FRBs A Bizarre Form of Magnetars?

On April 28, 2020, alarms were triggered at astronomical observatories around the world when a half-second powerful radio signal hit. That energy source was a neutron star on the other side of the Milky Way from Earth that died 30,000 years ago. In its death struggle, the star belched out a huge mixture of radio and x-ray energy. That fast-spinning, compact core of the dead star in the constellation Vulpecula is a known “magnetar,” that appears to have been the April 28th cause of the radio and x-ray belch. Magnetars are a type of neutron star believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field.

So, the April 28, 2020, alarms signaled the first ever observational connection between magnetars and fast radio bursts,” said Sandro Mereghetti of the National Institute for Astrophysics in Milan, Italy. But will this magnetar “SGR 1935+2154” ever repeat on the same precise 156 or 157 day cycle as FRB 121102?  If not, what is the difference between the known magnetar and the 100  Fast Radio Bursts recorded to date that include the cyclic pattern of FRB 121102?

Also see:

06-21-2020 – Energy of Half A Billion Yellow Suns in 1 / 1,000th of A Second — What ARE Fast Radio Bursts?


More Information:

08-14-2019 – 8 More New and Repeating Fast Radio Bursts – What ARE They?
06-28-2019 – New Proof That Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts Have Emerged from Two Different Galaxies.
01-31-2019 – 2nd Mysterious Repeating Fast Radio Burst (FRB) Discovered – What Are They?

08-30-2017 – Distant Galaxy Emits 15 New Fast Radio Bursts
03-30-2017
Repeating Fast Radio Bursts 2.5 Billion Light-Years from Earth — Alien Intelligence?
01-05-2017“Fast Radio Bursts” of Intense Radiation from Galaxy Far, Far Away
07-26-2013Unidentified Cosmic Radio Bursts Baffle Astronomers


Websites:

National Astronomy Observatory of China:  http://english.nao.cas.cn

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester, U. K.: http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk

VLB1 Radio Telescope Network:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_VLBI_Network

CHIME Telescope:  https://chime-experiment.ca/

Project Starshot:  http://www.planetary.org/multimedia/space-images/spacecraft/breakthrough-starshot-1.html

“Could Fast Radio Bursts Be Powering Alien Probes?” March 9, 2017, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2017-09

“Harvard Theorists: How Sailing Aliens Could Have Caused Fast Radio Bursts,” March 10, 2017, The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/03/10/delightful-thought-experiment-sailing-aliens-caused-furious-and-fast-radio-bursts/?utm_term=.264e71bbc214

“Mysterious Cosmic Radio Blasts Traced to Surprising Source,” Nature Int’l. Weekly Journal of Science, January 4, 2017: http://www.nature.com/news/mysterious-cosmic-radio-blasts-traced-to-surprising-source-1.21235

Cornell University “Cosmic Source Found for Mysterious ‘Fast Radio Burst’,” January 4, 2017: http://mediarelations.cornell.edu/2017/01/04/cosmic-source-found-for-mysterious-fast-radio-burst/

“Mysterious Radio Burst Came from A Galaxy 2.5 Billion Light-Years Away, Astronomers Discover,” January 4, 2017, The Washington Post: 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/01/04/mysterious-radio-burst-came-from-a-galaxy-2-5-billion-light-years-away-astronomers-discover/?utm_term=.fd78e109374c


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