Second Mysterious Fast Radio Burst Detected From Outer Space

Credit PA

Credit PA

From our limited understanding, we know that FRBs are extremely short and high-powered bursts of radio energy that were first observed in 2007. They're being described as "fast radio bursts".

Researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics point out that FRBs can be used to study the structure and evolution of the universe whether or not their origin is fully understood. They could be the result of magnetars, or rapidly spinning neutron stars that have been strongly magnetized. And the existence of a second repeater means 2012's was not a fluke or an instrument error - something is producing these repeating bursts of light, and it's clearly fixed in place over long periods of time.

The new discovery, reported in the journal Nature, was made by a Canadian-led team of astronomers on the hunt for FRBs.

The signal was detected by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), a radio telescope designed and built by Canadian scientists.

Tom Landecker, CHIME team member from the National Research Council of Canada.

The pre-commissioning phase meant that the telescope wasn't running at its fullest capacity. The radio bursts were observed by CHIME at frequencies between 400 megahertz (MHz) and 800 MHz. At the meeting of the American Astronomical Society this week, researchers at a powerful new Canadian telescope announced the detection of 13 new fast radio bursts (FRBs) in a mere two months of observations - a 20 per cent increase over the five dozen bursts that have been found in the past 12 years. "And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles - where they're from and what causes them", said Stairs, an author on the study.

Known by its acronym CHIME, the world's most powerful radio telescope, spread across an area as big as a football pitch, is poised to detect many more of the enigmatic pulses now that it is fully operational.

Also, as radio waves travel through space, they interact with the electrons and magnetic fields present in the interstellar and intergalactic plasma. Harvard University Professor Abraham Loeb past year said FRBs could originate from planet-sized transmitters that are used to propel giant spaceships by bouncing radio waves off their huge reflective sheets. What's more the lowest radio frequency recorded previously was 700 Mhz.

These repeating signals have a lower frequency.

Two FRB repeat themselves. Thousands could even discreetly reach us each day.

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

He added: "That tells us something about the environments and the sources".

"Most of the, sort of, reasonable theories involve a neutron star, or possibly a black hole", she explains.

Astronomers are still trying to figure out what is causing the phenomena. So far, scientists have very little information about where they actually might be coming from.

Repeating FRBs may be a rare finding, but they're even stranger than their single counterparts.

"So what we've shown is that by discovering a second FRB is that the repeating FRB is not unique and maybe we can hope to find more", he said in the video interview.

"We were relieved and very happy", said the UBC astrophysicist.

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