Sunday, 20 January, 2019


Scientists in Okanagan Valley detect radio bursts from distant galaxy

Kristine Garrett | 10 January, 2019, 14:42

Where the FRBs come from is not known - although they are thought to emanate from sources billions of light years away outside our galaxy, the Milky Way.

There have been more than 60 FRBs to date, with the only other repeating fast radio burst discovered in 2015 using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. But Kaspi said the FRB signals were strong all the way down to the lowest frequency CHIME could detect.

Seeing two repeating signals probably means there exists a "substantial population" of repeating signals, the researchers write in one of the two papers published in Nature. A new radio burst called FRB 180814.J0422+73 is now the second location in the sky to produce repeating radio bursts. The telescope, which resembles a set of skateboarding half-pipes, was built as part of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) to record radio signals from outer space.

Additional bursts from the repeating FRB were detected in following weeks by the telescope, which is located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.

Most previously detected FRBs have had frequencies of around 1,400 megahertz (MHz), but the new ones fell within a range below 800 MHz.

CHIME collaborator and Perimeter Institute fellow Kendrick Smith explained that using the telescope to search for FRBs poses a huge computational challenge.

The FRBs show various temporal scattering behaviours, with the majority significantly scattered, and some apparently unscattered to within measurement uncertainty even at our lowest frequencies.

"Different emission mechanisms expect that FRBs will be emitted within a certain range of radio frequencies, much like a light bulb can not emit X-rays or a microwave oven can not emit ultraviolet light", Tendulkar told Gizmodo.

However, Tendulkar said it was extremely unlikely the waves were caused by intelligent life. That suggests there might be even more of them, too low to be picked up by CHIME, reported The Independent. It's easier, therefore, to measure and understand these effects at lower frequencies. "This allows us to study how structures in the Universe formed and how they are distributed". Now, a new FRB is getting some serious attention for a very specific reason. More discoveries are likely on their way.

But it was so temporary and seemingly random that it took years for astronomers to agree it wasn't a glitch in one of the telescope's instruments. "Maybe repeaters aren't as rare as FRB 121102 led us to fear". "In the next phase, we plan to capture the full high-resolution data stream from the brightest bursts, which will let us better understand their positions, characteristics and magnetic environments". The existence of a second repeating burst suggests there could be many more of the mysterious signals in the cosmos.

Another interesting point to keep in mind, according to Loeb, is that the first repeater exhibited an associated persistent radio source, whereas the new repeater did not.

Until now, only one FRB - which was labeled FRB 112102 - was found to repeat itself later on.

Tendulkar told Gizmodo that there's still plenty of work to be done, both in terms of detecting and characterising FRBs. "But it has to be in some special place tog I've us all the scattering that we see".

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