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No pulsed radio emission during a bursting phase of a Galactic magnetar

Abstract

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are millisecond-duration radio transients of unknown physical origin observed at extragalactic distances1,2,3. It has long been speculated that magnetars are the engine powering repeating bursts from FRB sources4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13, but no convincing evidence has been collected so far14. Recently, the Galactic magnetar SRG 1935+2154 entered an active phase by emitting intense soft γ-ray bursts15. One FRB-like event with two peaks (FRB 200428) and a luminosity slightly lower than the faintest extragalactic FRBs was detected from the source, in association with a soft γ-ray/hard-X-ray flare18,19,20,21. Here we report an eight-hour targeted radio observational campaign comprising four sessions and assisted by multi-wavelength (optical and hard-X-ray) data. During the third session, 29 soft-γ-ray repeater (SGR) bursts were detected in γ-ray energies. Throughout the observing period, we detected no single dispersed pulsed emission coincident with the arrivals of SGR bursts, but unfortunately we were not observing when the FRB was detected. The non-detection places a fluence upper limit that is eight orders of magnitude lower than the fluence of FRB 200428. Our results suggest that FRB–SGR burst associations are rare. FRBs may be highly relativistic and geometrically beamed, or FRB-like events associated with SGR bursts may have narrow spectra and characteristic frequencies outside the observed band. It is also possible that the physical conditions required to achieve coherent radiation in SGR bursts are difficult to satisfy, and that only under extreme conditions could an FRB be associated with an SGR burst.

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Fig. 1: Timeline of multi-wavelength campaign of SGR 1935+2154.
Fig. 2: Non-detection of radio burst within ±30 s of GBM burst 10.

Data availability

Processed data are presented in the tables and figures within the paper. Source data are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request. The Fermi/GBM data are publicly available at https://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/FTP/fermi/data/.

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Acknowledgements

This work is supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 11988101, 11673002, 11703002, 11543004, 11722324, 11690024, 11633001, 11920101003, 11833003, 11722324, 11633001, 11690024, 11573014, 11725314, 11690024, 11743002, 11873067, 11533003, 11673006, U1938201, 11725313, 11721303, 1172130, U15311243, U1831207, U1838201, U1838202, U1838113, U1938109), National Key Research and Development Programs of China (grants 2018YFA0404204, 2017YFA0402600), the Program for Innovative Talents and Entrepreneur in Jiangsu, the KIAA-CAS Fellowship, the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (grants 2018M631242, 2016YFA0400800, 2018YFA0400802, E01S11BQ10, XDB23010200,XDB2304040, QYZDY-SSW-SLH008), the International Partnership Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant number 114A11KYSB20160008), the Cultivation Project for FAST Scientific Payoff and Research Achievement of CAMS-CAS, the Max-Planck Partner Group, the Spanish Science Ministry “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa” Program (grant SEV-2017-0709), the Junta de Andalucía (Project P07-TIC-03094) and the Spanish Ministry Projects AYA2012-39727-C03-01, AYA2015-71718R and PID2019-109974RB-I00. We thank E. Fernández-García (IAA-CSIC), I. M. Carrasco-García and C. Pérez del Pulgar (UMA) and the rest of the BOOTES Team for making the reported BOOTES Network observations possible. This work made use of data from FAST—a Chinese national mega-science facility, built and operated by the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences. We also acknowledge the use of public data from the Fermi Science Support Center (FSSC).

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Authors

Contributions

L.L., B.Z. and D.L. launched the FAST observational campaign on SGR 1935+2154. C.F.Z. and P.W. systematically processed the FAST data independently and cross-compared the results. K.J.L. and D.L. coordinated the FAST data analysis campaign; J.L.H., Y.P.M., C.C.M., C.H.N., J.R.N., B.J.W., H.X., J.L.X., W.Y., D.J.Z. and W.W.Z. participated in the FAST data analysis. X.G., P.J., C.S. and Z.L.W. coordinated the FAST observations. B.B.Z., L.L., Y.H.Y., L.S., Y.S.Y., J.H.Z., F.Y.W. and G.Q.Z. processed the Fermi/GBM data. L.L., S.N.Z., M.Y.G., S.M.J., C.K.L. and S.L.X. performed joint Insight-HXMT observations with FAST and processed the data. B.B.Z., A.J.C.-T., Y.D.H. and R.Q. carried out the BOOTES optical observations. X.G.W., E.W.L. and T.C.Z. carried out the LCOGT optical observations. B.Z. coordinated the science team. H.G., Y.P.Y., Z.G.D., Y.L., Z.L., F.Y.W., X.F.W. and R.X.X. contributed to theoretical investigations of the physical implications of the observational results. B.Z., K.J.L., B.B.Z., Y.P.Y., H.G., L.L., C.F.Z., Y.L. and J.L.H. contributed to the writing of the paper.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to K. J. Lee, D. Li or B. Zhang.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature thanks Amanda Weltman for her contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Fig. 1 Flux and fluence upper limits from FAST observation.

a, b, The horizontal axis shows the pulse width, and the vertical axes show the flux (a) and fluence (b) upper limits.

Extended Data Fig. 2 FRB radio candidates around the epochs of all 29 Fermi/GBM bursts.

As in Fig. 2, except that the observations are centred around the epochs of different GBM bursts.

Extended Data Fig. 3 T90 and fluence distribution of 29 Fermi/GBM bursts with best-fitting lines.

a, Distribution of the duration T90. b, Fluence distribution. The error bars are defined as the square root of the burst number in each fluence bin.

Extended Data Fig. 4 Jet beaming angle constraints.

a, Relationship between jet beaming angle θj and Lorentz factor Γ constrained by the observed probability; see equation (7). b, Constrained probability (P) contours in the θjΓ plane. The colour scale is logarithmic, that is, logP.

Extended Data Fig. 5 Spectra and spectral peak distribution constraints.

a, Relationship between mean peak frequency \({\bar{\nu }}_{{\rm{peak}}}\) and spectrum width Δν constrained by the observed probability. The dashed line corresponds to Δν = 0.4 GHz. b, Constrained probability (P) contours in the \({\bar{\nu }}_{{\rm{peak}}}\)\(\Delta \nu \) plane. The colour scale is logarithmic, that is, logP.

Extended Data Table 1 The multi-wavelength campaign
Extended Data Table 2 The 29 SGR bursts detected by Fermi/GBM

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Lin, L., Zhang, C.F., Wang, P. et al. No pulsed radio emission during a bursting phase of a Galactic magnetar. Nature 587, 63–65 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2839-y

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