Thursday, 17 January, 2019

A second mysterious repeating fast radio burst has been detected in space

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Doris Mccormick | 10 January, 2019, 18:11

This new repeating fast radio burst is called FRB 180814.J0422+73 and was recorded six times coming from the same location, 1.5 billion light-years away. FRBs last for just a few milliseconds, and their unpredictable displays make observations notoriously hard.

Some have suggested that these radio waves might not be natural, and could come from advanced alien races.

Responding to the news, one excited astronomer replied: "That means there is something out there".

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.

"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.

'Or near the central black hole in a galaxy. Scientists have recorded the second repeating fast radio burst to be discovered, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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The CHIME/FRB Collaboration includes scientists from UBC and McGill as well as the University of Toronto, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the National Research Council of Canada.

"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce", said CHIME team member Dr. Arun Naidu, a researcher at McGill University.

"With fast radio bursts, it's always felt like the more answers we get, the more questions we have", said Sarah Burke-Spolaor, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University who was not involved in the new research. "It is still an early field though, so it is hard to put concrete constraints on the theories, but our work is a new step in that direction". "The luminosity difference is many, many orders of magnitude", she said. "I think we are just drawn to anything unknown". Scientists on the project have hinted that at least 100 more bursts will be reported in the weeks to come. "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 closest analogs we have in our own galaxies (pulsars) are more than a trillion times fainter", Tendulkar said about the repeating FRB. It was originally created to delve into the mystery surrounding dark matter by mapping the distribution of interstellar hydrogen, but it also turns out to be well-suited to take on the mystery surrounding fast radio bursts.

Added Landecker: "We haven't solved the problem, but it's several more pieces in the puzzle". "But it has to be in some special place to give us all the scattering that we see", said Ng.

The search for FRBs has a simple motivation: so far, we have too few observations to settle on a cause for the phenomenon.

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