The most powerful fast radio burst ever detected came from an unexpected place

The most powerful fast radio burst ever detected came from an unexpected place

An artist’s rendering of a highly magnetized neutron star.

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are short bursts of radio waves from deep space that are as intense as they are mysterious.

Astronomers have been able to trace the origin of the most powerful and farthest FRB ever recorded to a tightly connected group of seven galaxies, giving researchers some insight into the variety of environments that can generate such interesting light emissions.

The burst, dubbed FRB 20220610A, originates from somewhere in the cluster, according to new Hubble Space Telescope images and analysis by an international team of researchers, and suggests that their interactions may play a role in the outburst.

This particular transmission has already refused to fit into some of the most widely held theories about how the universe works, leading astrophysicists to wonder under what conditions FRBs might form.

The host galaxy of the exceptionally powerful fast radio burst FRB 20220610A.

“Without the Hubble images, it would still be a mystery whether this FRB comes from a single monolithic galaxy or from some interacting system,” said astronomer Alexa Gordon of Northwestern University.

The signal we get from FRB 20220610A comes from a point where the universe was only 5 billion years old.

According to the first observations, the amorphous stream visible near the source of the FRB led researchers to suggest that several galaxies may be involved. However, the number of seven galaxies turned out to be unexpected. These galaxies are tightly packed together – they could all fit inside our Milky Way.

Galaxies were selected using data obtained by Hubble.

Galaxies that are so close to each other probably interact with each other in some way. If stars form there in rapid succession, this could be one explanation for the FRB strength.

“There are some indications that members of the group are interacting,” said astrophysicist Wen-Fai Fong of Northwestern University. “In other words, they may be exchanging material or perhaps on the way to merging. These groups of galaxies, called compact clusters, are incredibly rare environments in the Universe and are the densest galactic-scale structures we know of.”

At the moment, the most likely assumption is that FRBs are generated by such cosmic objects as neutron stars or black holes.

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