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Messages From A Distance

Many secrets are hidden in space, and astronomers have received the hint of one such secret. They have detected a mysterious radio signal from space. Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal, has published an article, according to which, the radio signal came from another galaxy that happens to be nearly three billion light-years away from the Earth. The new Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) has been termed FRB 20190520B.

This is the second time when such a radio signal has been received from space. Astronomers had received such a radio signal for the first time in 2007. According to, this phenomenon was discovered by graduate student David Narkevich and his supervisor Duncan Lorimer. Scientists still have no clear idea about this type of radio signal. Hence, they are carrying out more research work on this.

It may be noted that the FRB was detected using the 500mt Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in the Chinese city of Guizhou in May 2019. Interestingly, nearly 75 such radio signals were received from space between April and September 2020. They were thought to be caused by multiple explosions in cosmic objects. The FRB is a strong signal. Although these signals last for a few milliseconds, they return again and again.

FRB in our own galaxy

Astronomer Sarah Burke-Spolaor said: “The FRB field is moving very fast right now and new discoveries are coming out monthly. However, big questions still remain, and this object is giving us challenging clues about those questions.” For her part, Astronomer Casey Law of Caltech stressed: “These characteristics make this one look a lot like the very first FRB whose position was determined, also by the VLA (the National Science Foundation’s Karl G Jansky Very Large Array), back in 2016.” While the 2016 object was called FRB 121102, the properties were similar to FRB 20190520B. “Now we actually need to explain this double mystery and why FRBs and persistent radio sources are found together sometimes,” added Law.

Unifying repeating FRBs

Meanwhile, researchers are of the opinion that the FRB 190520 may be a newborn. In other words, it is “still surrounded by dense material ejected by the supernova explosion that left behind the neutron star”. Researchers have explained that once the material dissipates, the burst signals shall also decline. At the same time, they have admitted that some questions are still unanswered.

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