New results published today in The Astrophysical Journal indicate that the source of the interstellar explosion is in a much calmer galactic environment than other known events.
Using a telescope owned and operated by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, researchers have detected a “fast radio burst” in a nearby galaxy that calls into question what we know about how the phenomena form.
New results published today in The Astrophysical Journal indicate that the source of the interstellar explosion is in a much calmer galactic environment than other known events. Marcin Glowacki of the Curtin University node of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) led the latest research using CSIRO’s ASKAP radio telescope in the Wajarri Yamaji country of Western Australia.
Dr. Glowacki said that while previous studies suggest that colliding galaxies could create massive stars that can eventually cause fast radio bursts, the findings in this paper challenge that idea. “Of the radio bursts in which we have studied their host galaxies in detail, we have seen colliding and merging galaxies. In this investigation, we are not seeing those same clear signs of a turbulent galaxy,” said Dr. Glowacki.
“What we have seen in this new paper is that the host galaxy itself seems calm, even calm. This suggests that a massive star that caused the rapid radio burst was born in another way, or that this powerful outburst was created by something else. completely,” he said. Co-author Dr Karen Lee-Waddell, director of the Australian SKA Regional Center and WALLABY project scientist, said astronomers can so far study the “host” galaxy with just a few fast radio bursts and this new discovery highlights the importance of finding many more.
“Research like this is needed to study the environments around mysterious radio bursts, since galaxies are made up of more than just stars.
“We are eager to study fast radio bursts and their host galaxies in great detail, not only to solve an intergalactic mystery, but because they can tell us more about the structure and evolution of galaxy systems,” he said. Two teams of researchers are using ASKAP’s unique capabilities to investigate these enigmatic events and their host galaxies simultaneously.
Key to this ongoing research is the telescope’s unique ability to analyze the distribution of gas in galaxies, including searching for signatures that could help astronomers better understand cosmic flares. Dr George Heald, Director of CSIRO Australia’s National Telescope Facility Science Program, said ASKAP’s greatest strength is its ability to rapidly survey a large area of the sky.
Dr George Heald, Director of CSIRO Australia’s National Telescope Facility Science Program, said ASKAP’s greatest strength is its ability to rapidly survey a large area of the sky. “Each of ASKAP’s 36 satellite dishes is equipped with a specialized receiver that radio astronomers can direct to efficiently map the sky,” Dr. Heald said.
“This helps researchers produce some of the best radio astronomy data in the world, to better understand the universe,” he said.