International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

What are Fast Radio Bursts (FRB)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fast Radio Burst (FRB)

Mains level : Not Much

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.

Such news makes us think about alien and extraterrestrial life at the first. Do not get carried away with such thoughts. Its simply a space based phenomena.

Fast Radio Burst (FRB)

  • FRBs are super intense, millisecond-long bursts of radio waves produced by unidentified sources in the distant cosmos.
  • They were first discovered in 2007 when scientists combed through archival pulsar data.
  • Pulsars refer to spherical, compact objects in the universe, which are about the size of a large city but contain more mass than the sun.
  • They often look like flickering stars but are not stars.

Why in news?

  • 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.
  • FRB 190520B is co-located with a compact, persistent radio source and associated with a dwarf host galaxy of high specific star formation.


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