Chinese scientists detect high-energy counterpart of fast radio burst

2022-10-18 Xinhua Editor:Li Yan

Chinese scientists have detected an X-ray burst associated with a fast radio burst (FRB) and confirmed that it originated from a magnetar in the Milky Way, according to the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP), Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The discovery was made on Saturday using the Gravitational Wave High-energy Electromagnetic Counterpart All-sky Monitor (GECAM) telescope.

Xiong Shaolin, principal investigator of GECAM and a researcher with IHEP, noted that this is the second time in history that humans have managed to detect a high-energy counterpart of an FRB.

"This discovery provides extremely valuable data for a deeper understanding of the radiation mechanism of FRBs and the outburst mechanism of magnetars," Xiong said.

China's Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT), the country's space science satellite also known as Insight-HXMT, together with other space telescopes, detected the X-ray counterpart of an FRB for the first time in April 2020.

"It turns out that they both originated from the same magnetar named SGR J1935 2154, which further demonstrates that magnetar can emit the elusive FRB," Xiong said. "It is an important step toward unraveling the mystery of the origin of FRB."

FRBs are the brightest radio bursts known in the universe. They are called "fast" because these blips are very short, only several milliseconds in duration. But there is no reasonable explanation for their origin and radiation mechanism yet.

Magnetars are neutron stars with ultra-strong magnetic fields and can produce violent X-ray bursts during their activity.

Launched in December 2020, the GECAM mission focuses on detecting electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves, high-energy radiation from FRBs, various gamma-ray bursts and magnetar flares. 

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