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FRBs May Be Suffering from Plasma Lensing Effects, Study Suggests

A team of researchers has revealed new insights into the statistical properties of dispersion measure (DM) and waiting time of repeating fast radio bursts (FRBs). Their findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, suggest that FRBs may be suffering from plasma lensing effects in the propagation path.


FRBs are mysterious radio transients that emit a bright burst of radio waves lasting for a few milliseconds. They are thought to be caused by cataclysmic events in distant galaxies, such as the collapse of a neutron star or the merger of two neutron stars.


The DM of an FRB is a measure of the amount of free electrons that the radio waves have passed through on their journey to Earth. The higher the DM, the more free electrons the radio waves have passed through, and the farther away the FRB is likely to be.


The waiting time between two bursts from the same FRB is also an important parameter. It can provide clues about the mechanism that powers the bursts and the environment in which they occur.

The researchers in this study analyzed multi-frequency data from FRB180916.J0158+65, a well-known repeating FRB. They found that the DM of this FRB could be fit by a frequency-dependent two-component Gaussian function. This suggests that there are two populations of free electrons contributing to the DM of this FRB, one with a lower DM and one with a higher DM.


The researchers also found that the waiting time for FRB180916.J0158+65 is a discontinuous bimodal distribution. This means that there are two distinct populations of waiting times, one with shorter waiting times and one with longer waiting times.


The researchers compared the delay time due to plasma lensing effects with the waiting time in the left distribution and the delay time induced by frequency-dependent DM. They found that the delay time due to plasma lensing is consistent with the waiting time in the left distribution. This suggests that FRB180916.J0158+65 may be suffering from plasma lensing effects in the propagation path.


The researchers also discussed possible models for the origin of FRBs. They found that the high mass X-ray binary scenario is more suitable for the origin of FRB180916.J0158+65 than other models.


This study provides new insights into the statistical properties of DM and waiting time of repeating FRBs. The findings suggest that FRBs may be suffering from plasma lensing effects in the propagation path. This could help to narrow down the possible models for the origin of FRBs.


Journal Information: Yu-Bin Wang et al, Statistical properties and lensing effect on the repeating fast radio burst FRB 180916.J0158+65, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2023). DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stad1922
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