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I'm reading this article of Scientific American.

Here is some of sentence.

In 2017 they published a study with a number of theoretical calculations that suggested a magnetar would first produce a superluminous supernova—and then, years if not decades later, produce a number of FRBs (although exactly how remains a mystery).

I can't understand what years if not decades later means really.

Does it mean a magnetar produce a number of FRBs after few years?

Thank you in advance.

1 Answer 1

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According to the Oxford Dictionary

if not [phrase]

Perhaps even (used to introduce a more extreme term than one first mentioned)

hundreds if not thousands of germs

In your context, the period of time between the supernova and the FBRs could be years, and perhaps not just a few years but decades.

Applying the definition

First mentioned term: years
More extreme term: decades

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