Fast Radio Burst: FRB 190520 Remains Mysterious


Let us not launch the boat ...
Valued Senior Member
The basic sketch:

Astronomers using the U.S. National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, or VLA, as well as other powerful telescopes have found the second known highly active, repeating fast radio burst, or FRB, raising more questions about the nature of these little-understood objects and the role they play in intergalactic space.

The object, in the outskirts of a dwarf galaxy nearly 3 billion light-years from Earth called FRB 190520, emits frequent, repeating bursts of radio waves. VLA observations found that the object also constantly emits weaker radio waves between its frequent bursts.

"These characteristics make this look a lot like the very first FRB whose position was determined -- also by the VLA -- back in 2016," said Casey Law, one of the authors of the paper. "Now we have two, and that brings up some important questions."

(National Science Foundation↱)

The questions can feel mindbending: Do the differences between the two known FRBs suggest typal differences, or an age difference?

Additionally, different ways of measuring 190520's distance produce vastly different results. According to one of the paper authors, the discrepancy describes "a lot of material near the FRB that would confuse any attempt to use it to measure the gas between galaxies", suggesting FRBs will not be reliable "cosmic yardsticks". Moreover, one possibility the astronomers consider is that as time passes and "the dense material surrounding it dissipates, the signals will decline". Questions abound. Indeed, the questions themselves probably exceed my comprehension.


National Science Foundation. "Mysterious radio bursts from space detected". 7 July 2022. 7 July 2022.

See Also:

Niu, C.-H., K. Aggarwal, D. Li, et al. "A repeating fast radio burst associated with a persistent radio source". Nature. 8 June 2022. 7 July 2022.