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Astronomers discover the source of rapid radio waves



A little luck has helped astronomers solve a space mystery: What causes super-fast, powerful energy signals to travel through space?

Scientists have been aware of these signals, known as rapid radio bursts, for about 13 years. And they saw them coming from the outside Galaxy. This makes it more difficult to know what is causing them. What makes it even more difficult is that they happen so quickly – in a matter of milliseconds.

Then in April, a rare but much weaker explosion from within our galaxy was found by two different telescopes. One of the telescopes was the handcrafted device of a doctoral student in California, consisting of metal cooking utensils. The other is located at a Canadian $ 20 million space observation center.

This undated image provided by Caltech shows radio astronomer Christopher Bochenek with a STARE2 station he had developed near the town of Delta, Utah.  (Caltech via AP)

This undated image provided by Caltech shows radio astronomer Christopher Bochenek with a STARE2 station he had developed near the town of Delta, Utah. (Caltech via AP)

They linked the rapid radio burst with a strange star called a magnet 32,000 light years from Earth. That information came from four studies on Wednesday Journal publication nature.

It wasn’t just the first fast radio explosion associated with source; It is also the first person from our galaxy. Astronomers say there may be other sources for these explosions. But now they are sure of one of these sources: a magnetic field.

Magnet stars, 1.5 times the mass of our sun, are concentrated in a space the size of New York’s Manhattan region. They have enormous energetic magnetic fields, and sometimes explode X ray and all of a sudden radio waves come out from them. That information came from Ziggy Pleunis. He is an astrophysicist at McGill University and a co-author of Canadian studies.

The magnetic fields around these magnets “are so strong that any nearby atoms are ripped apart,” said astronomer Casey Law. He works for the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and is not involved in research.

This November 2016 photo provided by a collaboration of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment shows the CHIME radio telescope at the Dominion Radio Astronomical Observatory in Kaleden, British Columbia, Canada.  (Andre Renard / Toront University

This November 2016 photo provided by a collaboration of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment shows the CHIME radio telescope at the Dominion Radio Astronomical Observatory in Kaleden, British Columbia, Canada. (Andre Renard / Toront University

There may be about 12 of these magnetic fields in our galaxy. They are very young and are part of the star formation process. And our Milky Way doesn’t have as many born stars as other galaxies, says Shami Chatterjee of Cornell University. He does not belong to either discovery group.

This explosion in less than a second has the same amount of energy our sun generates in a month. And that’s still a lot weaker than radio explosions from outside our galaxy, Christopher Bochenek said. Radio astronomer Caltech helped detect the explosion with his manual equipment.

Astronomers say radio explosions pose no danger to us, or even stronger explosions from outside our galaxy.

Things that come from outside our galaxy and travel millions or billions of light years are very powerful. Daniele Michilli, an astrophysicist at McGill University, explains that they are tens of thousands to millions of times stronger than anything we find in our galaxy. He is a co-author of the study and a member of the Canadian group.

Scientists think explosions could happen more than 1,000 times a day outside of our galaxy. But finding them is not easy.

“You have to look at the right place at the right millisecond,” says Cornell’s Chatterjee. “Unless you’re very, very lucky, you won’t see either of these.”

Astronomers do not know the frequency with which explosions occur inside our Milky Way.

“We still don’t know how lucky we have been,” Bochenek said. “This could be something that happens once every five years or maybe a few events happen every year.”

Loaf’s beard cost about 15,000 dollars. Each “size of one Bucket“He said. It’s a six-inch piece of metal tube with two pieces of circular metal cookware around it,” explained the graduate student. Huge sky fragments and they are meant to see only the glare of the radio.

Bochenek imagined that he might have a 1 in 10 chance to catch fast radio waves in a few years. But after only a year, he made a valuable discovery.

Canada’s observatory in British Columbia is much more developed but targets a much smaller part of the sky. And it can find the source of the inner magnetic field Constellation Vulpecula.

Explosions are affected by all the matter they pass through in space. This could help astronomers understand and map matter that is invisible to us between galaxies and cosmic “scales”, Jason Hessels said. He is the chief astronomer at the Dutch Institute of Radio Astronomy and is not part of the research.

Astronomers have up to 50 different ideas about what causes these fast radio bursts, including alien. They say that magnets may not be the only answer.

I’m Alice Bryant.

The Associated Press reported this story. Alice Bryant has adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson is an editor.

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Words in this story

Galaxy – n. any one of the very large groups of stars that make up the universe

source – n. the cause or origin of something

X ray – n. Powerful invisible rays can pass through various objects

antenna – n. a device (such as a wire or metal rod) to send or receive radio or television signals

Bucket – n. an open container with a handle is used for carrying things, such as liquids

alien – n. a creature from a place other than planet Earth


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