Photo credit: Jingchuan Yu, Beijing Planetarium
Scientists used the Lovell Telescope to study an object known as a repeating Fast Radio Burst (FRB), which emits very short duration bright radio pulses. The team has found the emission from the FRB 121102 follows a cyclic pattern, with radio bursts observed in a window lasting around 90 days, which is then followed by a silent period of 67 days. This same behavior is then repeated every 157 days. Read more for a video and additional information.
There is currently no underlying pattern in the repetition, thus enabling astronomers to predict when FRB 121102 will be “on” or “off”. Some members of the team think that the powerful bursts are linked to the orbital motion of a massive star, neutron star, or a black hole.
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This is an exciting result as it is only the second system where we believe we see this modulation in burst activity. Detecting a periodicity provides an important constraint on the origin of the bursts and the activity cycles could argue against a precessing neutron star,” said Dr. Kaustubh Rajwade of The University of Manchester, who led the new research.