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How scientists are working together to solve one of the mysteries of the universe.

All of these facts can make it look like scientists know a lot about fast radio bursts. Actually, we do not. For example, although we know they are not from our galaxy, we do not know exactly where they come from. We do not know what causes them. And we're not sure if they could be useful as cosmological standards to measure the large-scale properties of our universe.

Dozens of theories about fast radio bursts have been proposed. Some conform to standard physics. Others are more exotic, including the cosmic cords (hypothetical, one-dimensional structures formed in the early universe) or even stranger: a theory suggests that aliens are responsible.

Now, in an attempt to discover the truth about Fast Radio Bursts, we have created a catalog that lists each theory, along with its pros and cons. Scientists from all over the world can participate, and new data and discoveries will be added throughout the process.

Some of these data will come from projects in the African continent, such as the Hydrogen Intensity Project and Real Time Analysis (HIRAX), MeerKAT and the Square Kilometer Set (SKA), which are expected to discover and locate thousands of Bursts of Rapid Radio

This platform will produce a great knowledge. It will also provide valuable information about scientific sociology, since international researchers work together and, ultimately, we hope they will identify the most acceptable model.

A range of theories

Perhaps precisely because they are so difficult to reach, rapid radio explosions have received much attention from astronomers, astrophysicists, cosmologists and physicists in the years since their discovery.

These are the main theories that have emerged up to now.

  • Rapid radio explosions involve types of neutron stars, such as pulsars (which spin rapidly) or magnetars (which are highly magnetized). These are probably the most plausible theories, since the intrinsic and extremely large magnetic fields of neutron stars can, of course, meet the energy requirements for fast radio explosions.
  • The fusion of astronomical bodies (such as black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs), and their collapse, has been proposed as a possible source for rapid radio explosions.

In such processes, huge amounts of energy are released in short time scales. This could create a radiation similar to the rapid radio pops.

  • Some of the more exotic models have a more theoretical basis. They involve hypothetical objects such as quark stars (quarks are subatomic particles that make up neutrons and protons), axion stars (axions are extremely light, hypothetical subatomic particles) and dark matter: hypothetical, unobserved matter , which is believed to explain% of the total content of the universe.
  • Another rather improbable theory is that fast radio bursts are beams that strike the pulsars.

And then there's the suggestion that Fast Radio Bursts are evidence of extraterrestrials. It is undoubtedly the most unusual of the proposed theories, but it still can not be ruled out as a possibility.

Although it is unlikely, rapid radio explosions can be signals from a beacon configured by an extraterrestrial civilization, or perhaps from light sails that take advantage of photons to travel through the galaxy.

There is a remarkable variation in these models, and it is a difficult job to narrow down the options and reach a consensus. Of the 50 theories or models proposed to date, only three have been eliminated. This is what prompted us to configure the catalog and invite the scientific community in general to participate.

Discussion platform

It is not an easy task to get scientists to talk to each other about fast radio bursts. This is because the scientists in question have different specializations and are from all over the world.

The online catalog provides an adequate and accessible platform for discussion, debate and knowledge exchange. There is also a traceable history, which gives us the opportunity to study how, as human beings, we work together to solve scientific problems, and perhaps how this process can be optimized in the future.

Part of our motivation, as theoretical physicists, was to develop this commitment and immerse ourselves in ourselves. The problems are rich and the deep waters.

The data on Fast Radio Bursts are starting to arrive now, thanks to game changes such as MeerKAT and HIRAX. As it arrives, the articles are examined and published, we can begin to discard theories and delve into the viable theories. Within five years, this mystery could be solved.

Explore further:
The Australian telescope almost doubles the known number of mysterious "rapid radio explosions"

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