Radio signals coming from deep space detected in Canada

Cesar Mills
January 10, 2019

A team of Canadian scientists - including several from B.C. - has recorded only the second ever repeating radio burst from outside our galaxy.

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.

In a Perimeter Institute video (below), Smith said the telescope generates an "avalanche of data, a hundred times more data than is generated by any other radio telescope".

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.

A blitzar is a rapidly spinning neutron star which collapses under its own weight and forms a black hole. The Canadian astronomers say they've found a second repeating signal that is distinct from the first one.

Constructed in British Columbia, CHIME is composed of four, 100-meter long half-pipe cylinders of metal mesh, which reconstruct images of the sky by processing the radio signals recorded by more than a thousand antennas.

"But exactly what physics is going into producing this very energetic burst of radio waves we don't really know yet".

"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.

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Before CHIME began to gather data, some scientists wondered if the range of radio frequencies the telescope had been created to detect would be too low to pick up fast radio bursts.

The research has now been published in the journal Nature. "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".

Mysterious radio signals (artist's impression) have reached Earth - from a galaxy 1.5 billion light years away.

Petroff said she wasn't surprised the CHIME astronomers found another repeating FRB, but she was surprised they found it so soon. "I think we are just drawn to anything unknown". "Maybe repeaters aren't as rare as FRB 121102 led us to fear".

At distances of billions of light years it's obviously very hard to test any of these theories, but detecting more FRBs, especially those that have a habit of repeating, could bring us closer to an explanation. "Our data will break open some of the mysteries of [the bursts]". While interesting, these new observations, he said, can not tell us about the nature of these sources-at least not yet.

Significantly, the 2012 and 2018 "repeaters" have strikingly similar properties. "But it has to be in some special place to give us all the scattering that we see".

To which he added: "CHIME is the most prolific FRB hunter in the world and we are looking forward to sharing new results in the upcoming months".

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

Other reports by GizPress

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