Highly polarized microstructure from the repeating FRB 20180916B
Journal article, 2021

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright, coherent, short-duration radio transients of as-yet unknown extragalactic origin. FRBs exhibit a variety of spectral, temporal and polarimetric properties that can unveil clues into their emission physics and propagation effects in the local medium. Here, we present the high-time-resolution (down to 1 mu s) polarimetric properties of four 1.7 GHz bursts from the repeating FRB 20180916B, which were detected in voltage data during observations with the European Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network. We observe a range of emission timescales that spans three orders of magnitude, with the shortest component width reaching 3-4 mu s (below which we are limited by scattering). We demonstrate that all four bursts are highly linearly polarized (greater than or similar to 80%), show no evidence of significant circular polarization (less than or similar to 15%), and exhibit a constant polarization position angle (PPA) during and between bursts. On short timescales (less than or similar to 100 mu s), however, there appear to be subtle PPA variations (of a few degrees) across the burst profiles. These observational results are most naturally explained in an FRB model in which the emission is magnetospheric in origin, in contrast to models in which the emission originates at larger distances in a relativistic shock. High-time-resolution observations of the repeating fast radio burst source FRB 20180916B reveal changes to the polarization properties of the emission on timescales of a few microseconds, indicating an origin in the source magnetosphere.


K. Nimmo

Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON)

University of Amsterdam

J. W. T. Hessels

University of Amsterdam

Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON)

A. Keimpema

Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE)

A. M. Archibald

University of Newcastle

J. M. Cordes

Cornell University

R. Karuppusamy

Max Planck Society

Franz Kirsten

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Astronomy and Plasmaphysics

D. Z. Li

Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics

University of Toronto

B. Marcote

Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE)

Z. Paragi

Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE)

Nature Astronomy

23973366 (eISSN)

Vol. 5 6 594-603

Subject Categories

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Other Physics Topics



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