Astronomers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other research centers have detected a strange and persistent radio signal from a distant galaxy, as described in a study published by the journal Nature. German media Deutsche Welle.
The signal was classified as a fast radio burst (FRB), an extremely intense emission of radio waves of unknown astrophysical origin that typically lasts a few milliseconds.
However, this new signal lasts up to three seconds, about 1,000 times longer than the FRB average. In this context, the team detected repeated bursts of radio waves every 0.2 seconds in clear periodic intervals similar to a heartbeat.
FRB 20191221A is the longest-lived FRB with the clearest periodic pattern ever discovered, as classified by researchers. The source of the signal is in a galaxy billions of light years away from Earth.
Its origin remains a mystery, although astronomers suspect the signal may come from a radio pulsar or magnetar, two types of neutron stars, the collapsed cores of very dense and rapidly rotating giant stars.