New work probes the extraterrestrial source of incredibly powerful explosions of radio waves, investigating why that spot is the only known location to repeatedly burst with these blasts.

These repeating bursts may come from a dense stellar core called a neutron star near an extraordinarily powerful magnetic field, such as one near a massive black hole, the study finds.

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are intense pulses of radio waves lasting just milliseconds that can give off more energy in a fraction of a second than the sun does in hours, days or weeks. FRBs were discovered only in 2007, and while researchers have detected 20 or so FRBs in the past decade, they estimate that such flashes might occur as many as 10,000 times a day across the entire sky, researchers wrote in the study. [Inside a Neutron Star (Infographic)]

Much remains a mystery about the origins of FRBs, because their brief nature makes it difficult to pinpoint where they come from. Among the possibilities that prior work suggested are cataclysmic events such as the evaporation of black holes and collisions between neutron stars.

Read more