This hyperactive behavior allowed scientists to describe not only the galaxy in which the source is located and its distance from us, but also what the source is.
An object named FRB 20201124A was discovered by a spherical radio telescope with a 500-metre aperture in China and described in a new article led by astronomer Hen Xu of Beijing University in China.
So far, most of the evidence points to a magnet, a neutron star with unusually strong magnetic fields, as a source of similar FRBs.
If FRB 20201124A really belongs to one of these wild space animals, it looks like an unusual copy.
"These observations brought us back to the drawing board," says Astrophysicist Bing Zhang of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. "It is clear that the FRB is more mysterious than we imagined. Further multi-wave observation campaigns are needed to further reveal the nature of these objects."
Rapid radiances have been a mystery to astronomers since they were first discovered 15 years ago in the 2001 archival data: a surge of incredibly powerful radio radiation that lasts only a moment of the eye. Since then, there have been many such outbreaks: milliseconds of radio waves that emit as much energy as 500 million suns.
Most of the recorded eruptions were made only once, making it more difficult to study them. Only a few of them were repeated, which helped scientists at least track them to receiving galaxies.
Then, in 2020, there was a breakthrough, and for the first time in the Milky Way, there was a rapid radio splash, which prompted astrophysicists to trace the phenomenon to magnetic activity.
The last extraordinary FRB is another example of such a rare repeater. In less than two months of FRB observation, the FRB 20201124A provided astronomers with the largest sample of data from rapid radio exploding with polarization than any other FRB source.
Polarization refers to the direction of light waves in three-dimensional space. By studying how this orientation has changed since light has left its source, scientists will be able to understand the environment through which it has passed. For example, strong polarization implies a powerful magnetic environment.
Based on a large number of data provided by FRB 20201124A, astronomers were able to conclude that the source was a magnet.
But there was something strange about this phenomenon, the way polarization changed over time, assumed that the magnetic field and the density of the particles around the magnetator fluctuated.
"This environment is not expected directly for an isolated magnet. Something else may be close to the FRB engine, possibly a binary companion," Zhang explains.
The data suggest that this companion may be a hot blue star, like We, which is often found in neutron stars' associates, as shown in a separate article led by astronomer Fain Wang of Nanking University in China.
But FRB 20201124A was discovered in a galaxy very similar to the Milky Way. There's not much star formation going on here, so there shouldn't be a star boom near an unusual FRB.
However, FRB 20201124A is not the only FRB source found in a galaxy with relatively no star formation; the growing number of surges suggests that there is an important part of the information that scientists are missing.