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Fast Radio Bursts: Mystery Solved?

Fast Radio Bursts: Mystery Solved?

[♪ INTRO] The universe is full of mysteries, and it
often takes years of staring at something to figure out what it could be. But what if you don’t have years? What if you just have one split second? That’s what’s happened with so-called
fast radio bursts. For a decade, astronomers have been struggling
to understand these weird events, which appear as a flash of radio waves in a random part
of the sky. But this week, according to a paper published
in the journal Nature, we might have finally figured out what causes at least one of them. Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are called fast
for a reason: each event lasts for just a couple of milliseconds,
then it never appears again. Usually. In 2015, astronomers noticed that
one they’d previously observed repeats. It’s called FRB 121102, and the signal comes
from a dwarf galaxy about three billion light-years from us. Since then, it’s been observed a handful
of times. And in this new paper, researchers published
a new guess about what might be causing it. After collecting 18 new observations, the
authors focused on the length of the bursts, along with two aspects of the radio waves:
their dispersion and their polarization. A wave’s dispersion describes how much one
frequency gets separated from another. Even if an object emits a bunch of frequencies
at once, they might reach Earth at different times because of how they pass through space. Kind of like how a prism can separate white
light into a rainbow. So dispersion can indicate things about the
conditions around where the wave was emitted. On the other hand, polarization, which involves
the direction waves travel, provides insight into the emitter itself. In this case, all the observations had roughly
the same polarization, and that told the scientists that whatever created the bursts has a constant
orientation relative to Earth. Besides that, some of these bursts were almost
astonishingly short. One lasted just 30 microseconds! That implies that whatever created it was
about 10 kilometers across, which just so happens to be
about the size of a neutron star, the dense cores leftover
from smaller supernovas. The observations also showed that the source
of the burst was surrounded by a cloud of electrons and bathed in a violent magnetic
field. Astronomers usually associate those conditions
with the space around a black hole. So one possible scenario is that this FRB
comes from a poor, tortured neutron star being jostled by a nearby black hole. Or, it might be a neutron star surrounded
by the remnants of a supernova, or even something completely different. We’ll need more research to figure it out. Still, even if we do figure out the source for sure, there are a lot of other questions to answer. Like, we don’t really know how a neutron
star would cause these bursts, even if we can confirm that’s where they’re coming
from. So, part of the mystery might be solved, but
we’ve still got a long way to go. But that isn’t the only star-themed discovery
we made recently. Using observations made with the creatively-named
Very Large Telescope in Chile, astronomers reported that the universe might have way
more massive stars than expected. They published their findings last week in
the journal Science. Since the 1950s, it’s been believed that
large stars are incredibly rare, but that’s been tough to check. Because besides being really large, these
stars don’t tend to last very long, so it’s hard to find a bunch of them in one area. Astronomers are especially interested in these
objects because they end their lives in powerful supernovas, which could produce the universe’s
heavy elements like gold, nickel, and uranium. And stars like them also shaped the early
universe with powerful radiation. So they have a lot to teach us. To try and study multiple stars at once, these
scientists looked at the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, one of our satellite galaxies only
about 160,000 light-years away. Within the Cloud lies the Tarantula nebula, one of the most active
starburst regions in our local universe. These regions are places where a lot of stars
are made in a relatively short period of time, which makes them especially useful for research. In this latest study, when the scientists
observed the nebula, they found dramatically more high-mass stars than predicted. For example, they found 30% more stars more
than 30 times the mass of our Sun. And for stars more than 60 times as massive,
it was an extra 73%. They even found a star weighing more than
200 solar masses, although it probably got heavier over time. The authors argue that, taken together, their
data implies that stars can be born with masses up to 300 times more than the Sun. Which is twice the previously accepted limit. Also, since these giant stars burn through
their fuel and die much more quickly than stars like our Sun, these results imply we
should see a lot more deaths, too. Specifically, when stars like this die, they
can turn into supernovas and create black holes. So, based on these findings,
the team estimates that one type of supernova should occur
around 70% more often than expected, and that there could be nearly triple
as many black holes in the universe. All these big conclusions, though, only hold
true if the Tarantula nebula isn’t, like, a special case of star formation. To know that, astronomers will have to make
more observations of other starburst regions. Because, you know, you didn’t think all
the work was done, did you? If you learn anything from SciShow Space,
it’s that there’s always more work to be done. If you want to stay up to date with the Tarantula
nebula and all kinds of space news, you can go to and subscribe. SciShow Space is the
first spinoff show of SciShow and it’s been steadily growing
over the last few years. And if you like it and want to help it grow,
please tell your friends about it. We’re so close to a million subscribers,
and getting excited! [♪ OUTRO]

100 comments on “Fast Radio Bursts: Mystery Solved?

  1. Polarization has to do with the direction of the oscillation of a wave (which way it vibrates) not the direction it travels. Think of the waves at the ocean, they travel from the water to the land, but they oscillate up and down (creating the crests that we see) and could thus be called vertically polarized.

  2. Neutron Stars are impossible. The huge magnetic field should be a much more massive and conclusive fact than apparently are being accepted.

  3. Of course there is always more to learn!! Until we can actually travel there or slow time we will always have questions.

  4. Boss: Next order of business, we need a name for our telescope.
    (Silence, thoughtful looks from everyone)
    Jenkins: The new telescope?
    Dalton: Yes, Jenkins, the large one. Try to keep up with the rest of us.
    Boss: Thats the one. You might even say it’s very large.
    Jenkins: How about “Very Large Telescope”?
    (awed expressions from everyone)
    Boss: Jenkins, you’ve done it again.
    Dalton: (sniffs) It’s a little on the nose, don’t you think?

  5. Definition: An FRB is a high-energy astrophysical phenomenon of unknown origin manifested as a transient radio pulse lasting only a few milliseconds. The first FRB was discovered by Duncan Lorimer and his student David Narkevic in 2007 when they were looking through archival pulsar survey data, and it is therefore commonly referred to as Lorimer Burst. Many FRBs have since been found, including a repeating FRB. When the FRBs are polarized, it indicates that they are emitted from a source contained within an extremely powerful magnetic field. (wikipedia)

  6. Magnetars could be the cause of these FRBs. Especially since it's stated that the object was "bathed in a violent magnetic field".

  7. From an article on The Guardian on this topic:
    "Astronomers calculated that the source must be emanating as much energy as 500m suns in the space of a millisecond, in order to explain how it was still detectable three billion years after the event."

  8. whats that? is it the day standard cosmological model finally shows some predictive validity? aww, shucks, good effort tho, suggestion – not enough epicycles

  9. you all are doing a great job once again……
    *you all done a gread job once again….
    (was the first one correct?? I don't know)

  10. Would be really bad ass if it was actually nuclear explosions on other planets 🙂 Is there a 3D model of the galaxy or universe?

  11. How can you conclude that FRB's are comming from neutron stars when you don't know how they do it? Is the logic just: hey neutron stars do all sorts of weird stuff so why not this.

  12. I don't say it's aliens but in the 1 of the trillion possibilities that it is, how we could now? How wouldn't reject it as a "tin foil hat theory"? Except that we're not at the technological level to know, we're not in the spiritual state to grasp it either. I don't reject the facts in this issue, I'm just dropping some food for thought in general. For us and the universe.

  13. So I have a theory about Jupiter's great red spot, what if it's from a large planet Jupiter swallowed 300 + years ago? Or a really fast moving comet?

  14. i wasn't listening properly and heard "and just like a prison can separate a white…" and imagined "prisoner from a black one? wtf?" 😀

  15. I love it when all the great minds get baffled when nature proves their expectations wrong when it comes to extremes like solar masses and number of occurrences. I hope we keep discovering exciting new things like this all the time.

  16. these words r just so cool to listen to
    "black hole" "supernova" "neutron star"
    pack them into a properly crafted game and u got a best seller

  17. The fact that we can determine the source of a FRB was ~10km across and was surrounded by a cloud of electrons from 3 BILLION LIGHT YEARS away is just.. blowing my mind. Space is so impossibly huge. And we may never even visit the star that is right next to us.

  18. What would cause a red triple flash burst seen at night, somewhere near the seven sisters about 9-12 months ago? It reminded me of what a nuclear explosion in space may look like.

  19. NEW: Multi-planet System Found Through Crowdsourcing –

  20. Talking about the super massive stars Superman suit son I'm curious all those accompanied by giant planets and if they are how come we haven't seen them yet

  21. See, like I have always said.. scientist don't know diddly squat.. They guess and then get pissed when people do not agree with there guess's.. But yet I always hear.. well science says…. oh well, good vid my friend..

  22. Uh… I'm guessing this doesn't help sort out what's up with the missing mass of the universe so we still need to conjure up Dark Matter?

  23. I had thought recent discovery has revealed gold isn't created largely or at all in super nova but rather in far greater quantity in neutron star mergers.

  24. Why does a 30 microsecond FRB impy the source is about 10km across? (1.46). Is this distance a maximum set by the speed of light?

  25. Maybe in the Early universe these really massive stars were 90% or more of stars created, maybe way bigger than VY Canis Majoris. And maybe they were all so close to each other. After enough Super novae they all become black holes and collide and that could've helped the "Super Massive Blackholes" problem we don't know much about, in the early universe. Along with maybe more factors like dark matter, or other stuff.
    IDK I really wanna know how Super Massive Blackholes formed in the early universe it's bothering me…

  26. I feel like we've established that 99% of initially inexplicable astronomical phenomena ultimately have something to do with supernovas, black holes, or neutron stars.

  27. The neutron star could also be a magnetar. Magnetars are neutron stars, which fits the 10 km. Magnetars also have ridiculously strong magnetic fields, accounting for the violent magnetic fields surrounding it. Being surrounded in a cloud of electrons could be explained by the layers of a neutron star. The outer layers of neutron stars are made up significantly from electrons. However, if it’s a cloud siginificantly bigger than the neutron star, then a recent supernova that caused the neutron star could provide those electrons. That explanation could also help to explain the constant orientation compared to Earth. Please tell me if I got anything wrong here: I want to know.

  28. Interesting news! Yeah, I don't know what to put in the comment other than thank you for the quality content? I hope this helps the algorithm find all the views and subscribers you deserve!

  29. Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are gamma-ray discharges that happen billions and billions of years, on the periphery of the universe. It is these discharges that become matters and create the universe. See details of how this is possible by reading:

  30. .Delete this paragraph to shift page flush
    Crypto: 0
    As received by: Transceiver Relay03 at Relay
    Language path: Samnorsk->Triskweline, SjK:Relay units
    From: Straumli Main
    Subject: Archive opened in the Low Transcend!

  31. Repeating FRB's are highly magnetically charged alien becon's that send out signals and if and when they crack the code they will see that "they" are sending the complete works of Johnny Cash right back to us. 🤘🏻

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