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Astrophysicist Joe Pesce describes significance of recent cosmic radio burst

Astrophysicist Joe Pesce joined Hill.TV to discuss a recent astronomical phenomenon that unexpectedly occurred in the Milky Way galaxy.

Christopher Bochenek, a California Institute of Technology radio astronomer and doctoral student, observed a fast radio burst that other scientists linked to a magnetar, which is not regularly seen in the Milky Way.

“Fundamentally, the fast radio burst was a form of object that we’ve never seen before. And so that’s something that’s going on in our universe, and we want to figure out what’s happening,” Pesce said.

He said the fast radio burst’s (FRB) proximity to Earth would provide more insight to scientists studying the phenomenon.

“We’ve seen for the first time an FRB from inside our Milky Way and that has allowed us to follow up because it’s closer and easier to see,” he said. “And as you’ve noted, it was detected at the sight of a known magnetar.”

Pesce explained that a magnetar is a type of neutron star with “extremely strong magnetic fields” formed when “stars more massive than the sun die.”

“They are the strongest known magnetic fields in the universe, a lot of energy there,” he added.

Pesce said the ability to observe FRB from magnetars will give scientists the opportunity to better understand astrophysics because those conditions cannot be found on Earth.

“Fundamentally, these extreme objects are very extreme laboratories. They are laboratories that are much more extreme from a physics perspective than we can create in laboratories on Earth,” he said.

“They’re tools that we use, both in the neatness of the object itself and trying to figure out what the astronomical object is, but then also, just understanding our universe around us and the laws of nature that operate within the universe.”