Scientists have discovered a mysterious radio source located in a spiral galaxy 500 million light years from Earth pulsating on a 16-day cycle, marking the first time fast radio bursts (FRBs) have beat at a steady rhythm. These fast radio bursts are mysterious because they can be detected once or be “repeaters,” with some bursts appearing only once in a certain part of the sky, while others emit multiple flashes to Earth. Read more for a video and additional information.
This pulsing could mean that the FRB is orbiting something else, perhaps a star or black hole, thus 16-day period might reveal how often the source of the radio waves is pointed toward Earth. Or, stellar winds from a companion might periodically boost or block the radio pulses, while winds might explain why not every 16-day cycle produces bursts.
This is very significant. It’s potentially going to take us in an interesting direction to get to the bottom of these repeaters,” said Duncan Lorimer, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University in Morgantown and co-discoverer of the first FRB (SN: 7/25/14).