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Volume 553 Issue 7687, 11 January 2018

The cover shows the William E. Gordon Telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Jason Hessels and his colleagues used the telescope in their attempt to clarify the physical nature of the only known source of repeating fast radio bursts. Lasting about a millisecond each, these bursts come from a star-forming region in a dwarf galaxy. Hessels and his co-authors observed that the bursts were nearly 100% linearly polarized and had a very high Faraday rotation measure. Such results require the presence of an environment of extreme magnetized plasma, which has previously been seen only around massive black holes. As a result, the authors suggest that the radio bursts possibly come from a neutron star in such an environment (although the team notes that, in principle, the bursts could originate from a neutron star surrounded by either a highly magnetized wind nebula or a supernova remnant). Image: Image design: Danielle Futselaar; Photo usage: Brian P. Irwin/Dennis van de Water/


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