3 years ago

An extreme magneto-ionic environment associated with the fast radio burst source FRB 121102.

R. S. Wharton, S. P. Tendulkar, C. Brinkman, S. Bogdanov, J. M. Cordes, C. G. Bassa, T. J. W. Lazio, M. A. McLaughlin, K. Gourdji, S. M. Ransom, R. S. Lynch, G. H. Heald, G. Hellbourg, Z. Paragi, F. Fernandez, E. A. K. Adams, C. Sobey, D. Michilli, S. Chatterjee, J. W. T. Hessels, L. G. Spitler, G. C. Bower, A. M. Archibald, A. Seymour, D. Whitlow, B. Marcote, N. Maddox, P. Demorest, A. P. V. Siemion, V. M. Kaspi, C. J. Law, V. Gajjar, P. Van Rooy, P. Scholz

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are millisecond-duration, extragalactic radio flashes of unknown physical origin. FRB 121102, the only known repeating FRB source, has been localized to a star-forming region in a dwarf galaxy at redshift z = 0.193, and is spatially coincident with a compact, persistent radio source. The origin of the bursts, the nature of the persistent source, and the properties of the local environment are still debated. Here we present bursts that show ~100% linearly polarized emission at a very high and variable Faraday rotation measure in the source frame: RM_src = +1.46 x 10^5 rad m^-2 and +1.33 x 10^5 rad m^-2 at epochs separated by 7 months, in addition to narrow (< 30 mus) temporal structure. The large and variable rotation measure demonstrates that FRB 121102 is in an extreme and dynamic magneto-ionic environment, while the short burst durations argue for a neutron star origin. Such large rotation measures have, until now, only been observed in the vicinities of massive black holes (M_BH > 10^4 MSun). Indeed, the properties of the persistent radio source are compatible with those of a low-luminosity, accreting massive black hole. The bursts may thus come from a neutron star in such an environment. However, the observed properties may also be explainable in other models, such as a highly magnetized wind nebula or supernova remnant surrounding a young neutron star.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.03965

DOI: arXiv:1801.03965v1

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