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Mystery space radio pulses explained by astronomers

From BBC - January 10, 2018

Astronomers say they have explained mystery radio pulses from space that were once considered to be a potential message from aliens.

Fast radio bursts are one of the most persistent puzzles in astronomy; while usually short-lived, one source in the sky was sending out repeated pulses.

Now, a team says the strange emission could be caused by a dead star with an exceptionally powerful magnetic field.

Details were reported here at the 231st American Astronomical Society meeting.

The first FRB was discovered in 2007, in archived data from the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia. Astronomers were searching for new examples of magnetised neutron stars called pulsars, but found a new phenomenon - a radio burst from 2001.

Since then, 18 FRBs - also referred to as "flashes" or "sizzles" - have been found in total.

But only one of these sources of radio energy has erupted more than once - a so-called burster called FRB 121102. This FRB has sent out around 150 flashes since its discovery in 2012.

Now, in the journal Nature, a team of scientists explains how the emission is likely to come from a dead star, or neutron star, with an exceptionally powerful magnetic field.

Twisted waves

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