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FRBs – whence galactic epic flashes of energy?

Epic events catch our attention. Spectacular stellar events have attracted attention since ancient times. Some events, however, cannot be observed with our eyes (visible light). Radio sources. And massive spikes in radio energy are telling astronomers something interesting.

• NASA > “Hubble Tracks Down Fast Radio Bursts to Galaxies’ Spiral Arms” (May 20,2021) [Includes YouTube video.]

(quote) Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have traced the locations of five brief, powerful radio blasts to the spiral arms of five distant galaxies.

Called fast radio bursts (FRBs), these extraordinary events [can] generate as much energy in a thousandth of a second as the Sun does in a year [1]. Because these transient radio pulses disappear in much less than the blink of an eye, researchers have had a hard time tracking down where they come from, much less determining what kind of object or objects is causing them. Therefore, most of the time, astronomers don’t know exactly where to look.

The team’s Hubble results, however, are consistent with the leading model that FRBs originate from young magnetar outbursts.


[1] But no worries, as Wiki notes:

Astronomers estimate the average FRB releases as much energy in a millisecond as the sun puts out in 3 days. While extremely energetic at their source, the strength of the signal reaching Earth has been described as 1,000 times less than from a mobile phone on the Moon.

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