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“Fast Radio Bursts” of Intense Radiation from Galaxy Far, Far Away

© 2017 by Linda Moulton Howe


“The definitely know, for this one case anyway, that the radio burst is not
cataclysmic (referring to 9 fast radio bursts over 6 months in 2016.”

- Shami Chatterjee, Ph.D., Astronomer, Cornell University


The 8-meter Gemini telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, is seen measuring the redshift
of the host galaxy in the Auriga Constellation from where the FRB121102 fast radio bursts
have originated since 2007, showing that the bursts are traveling 3 billion light years to
reach Earth. Illustration by Danielle Futselaar


January 5, 2017 Ithaca, New York - What has been making eighteen very rapid radio bursts since 2007 when first recorded by the Parkes radio telescope in Australia? Then on November 2, 2012, there were two repeating bursts now referred to as “FRB 121102.” After that, the Very Large Array (VLA) in Datil, New Mexico, and the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico recorded a total of nine fast radio bursts over a 6-month time period in 2016.

he globally distributed dishes of the European VLBI Network are linked with each other
and the 305-meter William E. Gordon Telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Together they have localized FRB121102's exact position within it's host dwarf galaxy 3 billion
light-years from Earth in the Auriga Constellation. Illustration by Danielle Futselaar

Cornell University astronomer Shami Chatterjee, Ph.D., describes what has been learned so far about the repeating “fast radio bursts” in the January 4, 2017, journal Nature. See Websites below. Dr. Chatterjee says about the nine fast radio bursts over the 6-month period in 2016, “We definitely know, for this one case anyway, that the radio burst is not cataclysmic,” meaning whatever has been emitting the bursts is not being destroyed by them.


Source Is 3 Billion Light-Years from Earth

Prof. Chatterjee compares the anomalies to pulsar blasts when spinning neutron stars emit pulses of radiation like a ticking clock. But these Auriga constellation fast radio bursts come in wavelengths that have spread out over time indicating the source is 3 billion light-years from Earth in a faint dwarf galaxy of the Auriga constellation, only 1/100th the mass of our Milky Way galaxy. Such “puny” galaxies have been known historically to produce some of the most violent explosion events in the universe by dying massive stars such as supernova explosions of magnetic pulsars known as magnetars. The huge distance implies that the 18 fast radio bursts must be “incredibly bright.”

Auriga constellation lies in the northern hemisphere. Its name means “the charioteer” in Latin.
Auriga was first catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. The constellation's major stars form a shape similar to that of the pointed helmet of a charioteer.

But if the only repeating fast radio bursts come from 3 billion light-years, “where are all the other nearby ones?” asks Dr. Chatterjee. Earth radio receivers should have received saturating bursts from other dying sources in that small galaxy if dying massive stars were the answer to the 18 fast radio bursts since 2007. The fact that no other saturating bursts have been recorded is “very curious,” says Dr. Chatterjee. Another remote possibility is that the repeating fast radio bursts could be from an advanced intelligence.

A January 4, 2017, Cornell University's news update concludes: “The next big question is the nature of the source: What powers these bursts and are there other ones that repeat? 'We think it may be a magnetar – a newborn neutron star with a huge magnetic field, inside a supernova remnant or a pulsar wind nebula – somehow producing these prodigious pulses,' said Chatterjee. 'Or, it may be an active galactic nucleus of a dwarf galaxy. That would be novel. Or, it may be a combination of those two ideas – explaining why what we’re seeing may be somewhat rare.'”

Datil, New Mexico's Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes are helping to investigate
the source of the mysterious fast radio bursts from the Auriga Constellation since
first recorded in 2007. Image by Roger Ressmeyer, Getty Images.

Also see:

• 04/22/2006 — Cassiopeia A Is Not Dying Peacefully. Is It A Rare Magnetar?
• 03/03/2005 — What Made Five Strong Radio Bursts At the Center of Our Galaxy?

For further information about mysteries in our universe, please see reports in the Earthfiles Archive organized in chronological order from 1999 to 2016 ongoing of which a few are listed here.

• 10/22/2016 — Is Our Sun's Mysterious 6-Degree Tilt Linked to A Huge 9th Planet?
• 09/30/2016 — Part 1: Searching for Other Life and Dark Matter in This Universe
• 09/30/2016 — Part 2: Self-Activating Intelligence of Dragonfly and James Webb Telescopes
• 01/29/2016 — Gravitational Evidence of 9th Planet 10 Times the Mass of Earth!
• 06/27/2015 — Is Time An Illusion and the Future Already Written, As Einstein Thought?
• 07/26/2013 — Unidentified Cosmic Radio Bursts Baffle Astronomers.


Cornell University "Cosmic Source Found for Mysterious 'Fast Radio Burst'," January 4, 2017:

"Mysterious Cosmic Radio Blasts Traced to Surprising Source," Nature Int'l. Weekly Journal of Science, January 4, 2017:

Neutron Stars:



Auriga Constellation:


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