Just a week after a group of astronomers announced that they had found the source galaxy for the fast radio burst (FRB) that remains mysterious, another group of scientist claims it to be false. FRBs were a mysterious event that exerted energy in a millisecond that was equivalent to the energy produced by the sun over 10,000 years. Their cause remained a mystery until last week. Evan Keane, a project scientist at the Square Kilometer Array Organization, along with his colleagues, wrote a paper that said that they have narrowed down the source location for FRBs.
Contradicting conclusions by scientist Peter Williams and his group
Now, there is another group of scientists led by Peter Williams, a postdoctoral astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He has asserted that what the scientists claimed as the source location of FRB could well be nothing but blotches of a monster black hole. “We astronomers can currently only get relatively poor localizations for FRBs. For the search performed by the Keane team, they can narrow it down to an area about a quarter the size of the full moon.” said Peter.
Keane’s team based their conclusion after reviewing the region from where FRB originated. They found that the glow of the FRB faded within six days. As per their report after the research, the light was produced by a cataclysmic collision between two merging black holes, or any other powerful object. But Williams and his team do not agree with their conclusion, saying that the glow can be a result of the bright activity associated with a supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy, a feature known as an active galactic nuclei (AGN). “The Keane team’s paper does not consider the possibility that the origin galaxy is an AGN. Frankly, I’m not sure why this possibility was not investigated in the paper,” said Williams.
Keane’s team concluded on the basis of a dimming afterglow that, according to them, was after a powerful collision. Peter Williams, on the other hand, finds the glow inconclusive. “You can fit a lot of galaxies in that search area, so your odds of seeing an unrelated radio variable are not so bad,” Williams added. He further added, “One reason that Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are exciting is that radio pulses can travel through all sorts of stuff. They would have no problem passing through a galaxy.”
Fast Radio Burst might be far more complicated
What raised the red flag for Williams and his colleague was a constant glow from the proposed source. “I think that Keane et al glossed over the steady radio emission after the first six days. It was bright enough that only an AGN origin makes sense. This was what alerted us to a problem with their paper as soon as we read it,” wrote William. To add to his argumentative paper, he further shared, “We know little enough about the physics of FRBs that I wouldn’t want to say it’s impossible. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if an enterprising theorist gets inspired to cook up just such a model based on the past week’s events.”
Peter Williams posted an informal paper online to tell other scientists about their conclusions. They will continue to observe the proposed source galaxy for more detailed observation. “We may never find out where this FRB came from or even be able to conclusively prove that it did not come from the proposed galaxy. But I think we are well on our way to showing that there is a compelling alternative hypothesis that explains the galaxy observations without requiring that the FRB originated from the galaxy,” said Williams.