Sunday, 16 June, 2019


Repetitive Radio Burst From Distant Galaxy, Detected By Scientists in Okanagan Valley

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Kristine Garrett | 12 January, 2019, 14:28

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are radio emissions that appear temporarily and randomly, making them not only hard to find, but also hard to study. Incredibly, these radio waves originate from distant galaxies, travelling at high energies through the cosmos for literally billions of years. Those include: a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly and two neutron stars merging together. Additional bursts from the repeating FRB were detected in following weeks by the telescope, which is located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.

A new set of papers published today in Nature, however, could bring the answer just a little bit closer.

Most of the FRBs previously detected had been found at frequencies near 1,400 MHz, well above the CHIME's range of 400 MHz to 800 MHz. "There are some models where intrinsically the source can't produce anything below a certain frequency", said Arun Naidu of McGill University in Canada, who was part of the team that detected the signal.

Unlike typical FRBs that come and go, the discovery of a repeating FRB is vital to increasing our understanding of them, as we are able to train our radio telescopes towards them to study them further.

National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) radio dishes of the Very Large Array near Socorro, New Mexico, is where the 2012 FRB was documented. "By detecting and characterising fast radio bursts at different frequencies, we can better understand which theories work and which do not".

However, Tendulkar said it was extremely unlikely the waves were caused by intelligent life. CHIME measures scattering more precisely than other instruments because it operates at lower frequencies.

There are lights in the universe that we do not see. These ultrastrong, ultrabright radio signals last only a few milliseconds and are thought to originate from billions of light-years away, though their precise source is unknown.

We know one thing for sure, and that is that these bursts are not as special as scientists make they seem.

The most likely explanation is that they were created by powerful objects in space. "Our data will break open some of the mysteries of [the bursts]". Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb told Gizmodo that the reported results are "trustworthy and solid". Thousands could even discreetly reach us each day.

Despite the relative scarcity of recorded FRBs, these signals could eventually be more regular than we think. Given that 13 FRBs were detected in such a short amount of time using pre-commissioning data, "just imagine what's waiting for us in the full-sensitivity data", she said.

The scientists note that until now, there was only one known repeating FRB.

For now, all we have is two repeating sources and several dozen outliers-but at least it's a good start.

Artist's impression of the active galactic nucleus shows the supermassive black hole at the center of the accretion disk sending a narrow high-energy jet of matter into space, perpendicular to the disc in this image by Science Communication Lab in Kiel Germany, released on July 12, 2018.

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