In a paper published in Nature, astronomers have reported a fast radio burst (FRB) whose characteristics are different from almost all other FRBs previously detected, except one. The scientists used the National Science Foundation’s Karl G Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and other telescopes to study the object.


What is an FRB?

  • The first FRB was discovered in 2007. Essentially, FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves (radio waves can be produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields) whose durations lie in the millisecond-scale, because of which it is difficult to detect them and determine their position in the sky.
  • Since the first FRB was discovered in 2007, 140 more were discovered until June 2021.
  • Their origins are unknown, and their appearance is unpredictable.
  • The new study in Nature describes FRB 20190520B, first discovered in 2019. What makes it different is that unlike many other FRBs, it emits frequent, repeating bursts of radio waves. And between bursts, it constantly emits weaker radio waves.
  • Only one FRB has been previously observed to behave this way. Called FRB 121102, that was discovered in 2012.