A fast radio burst with submillisecond quasi-periodic structure

Publication date: 
Main author: 
Pastor-Marazuela, Inés
IAA authors: 
Hess, Kelley M.
Pastor-Marazuela, Inés;van Leeuwen, Joeri;Bilous, Anna;Connor, Liam;Maan, Yogesh;Oostrum, Leon;Petroff, Emily;Straal, Samayra;Vohl, Dany;Adams, Elizabeth A. K.;Adebahr, Björn;Attema, Jisk;Boersma, Oliver M.;van den Brink, R.;van Cappellen, W. A.;Coolen, Arthur H. W. M.;Damstra, Sieds;Dénes, Helga;Hess, Kelley M.;van der Hulst, J. M.;Hut, Boudewijn;Kutkin, Alexander;Marcel Loose, G.;Lucero, Danielle M.;Mika, Ágnes;Moss, Vanessa A.;Mulder, Henk;Norden, Menno J.;Oosterloo, Tom A.;Rajwade, Kaustubh;van der Schuur, Daniel;Sclocco, Alessio;Smits, R.;Ziemke, Jacob
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Publication type: 
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are extragalactic radio transients of extraordinary luminosity. Studying the diverse temporal and spectral behaviour recently observed in a number of FRBs may help to determine the nature of the entire class. For example, a fast spinning or highly magnetised neutron star (NS) might generate the rotation-powered acceleration required to explain the bright emission. Periodic, subsecond components suggesting such rotation were recently reported in one FRB, and may also exist in two more. Here we report the discovery of FRB 20201020A with Apertif, an FRB that shows five components regularly spaced by 0.411 ms. This submillisecond structure in FRB 20201020A carries important clues about the progenitor of this FRB specifically, and potentially about the progenitors of FRBs in general. We therefore contrast its features to what is seen in other FRBs and pulsars, and to the predictions of some FRB models. We present a timing analysis of the FRB 20201020A components carried out in order to determine the significance of the periodicity. We compare these against the timing properties of the previously reported CHIME FRBs with subsecond quasi-periodic components, and against two Apertif bursts from repeating FRB 20180916B, which show complex time-frequency structure. We find the periodicity of FRB 20201020A to be marginally significant at 2.4σ. Its repeating subcomponents cannot be explained as pulsar rotation because the required spin rate of over 2 kHz exceeds the limits set by typical NS equations of state and observations. The fast periodicity is also in conflict with a compact object merger scenario. However, these quasi-periodic components could be caused by equidistant emitting regions in the magnetosphere of a magnetar. The submillisecond spacing of the components in FRB 20201020A, the smallest observed so far in a one-off FRB, may rule out both a NS spin period and binary mergers as the direct source of quasi-periodic FRB structure.
ADS Bibcode: 
stars: neutron;stars: magnetars;Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena