News – Canadian astronomers discovered the 2nd mysterious radio burst



CBC News

Thursday, January 10, 2019, 16:23 – At the depth of the universe, there are radio signals that astronomers do not understand. Now, the Canadian research group has found a repetitive signal, only that another such kind has been discovered.

Rapid radio outbreaks or FRBs are cosmic radio bursts that last only milliseconds. The source is from something with an extremely strong magnetic field that produces a signal along the radio frequency band.

In a new document published Wednesday in the wild, researchers reveal that a recently-launched radio telescope in British Columbia – the CHIME-based Canadian Experiment Experiment – captured 13 new FRBs, but more importantly, it caught the second recurring FRB.

The first FRB, called FRB 121102, was discovered in 2007 using the telescope data from 2001. Since then, it has been only 36 in the past year when it was explored by an Australian radio telescope.

The CHIME telescope in British Columbia will investigate our world of phenomena such as high-speed radio burglaries, pulse and more. (CHIME, Andre Renard, Dunlap Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto)

But what causes these powerful radio signals traveling from distant galaxies is unknown. Many theories abound – even those involving aliens – but some of the leading theories involve an object that is very magnetized, such as a star, called a magnet.

In 2015, McGill University doctor Paul Scholz found that the previously discovered FRB was actually repeated. From astronomers he was scratching his head over an already bizarre cosmic jigsaw puzzle.


"We definitely hoped that the CHIME telescope could detect a lot of rapid radio bursts," said Ingrid Stairs, a member of the CHIME team and Astrophysics at the University of British Columbia. "And we were lucky to find 13 of these things in the pre-launch phase."

The pre-start phase meant that the telescope did not work at full capacity. In fact, it was only one-quarter of the sky that he could observe.

This image in the visible light shows the host galaxy of the rapid radio burst FRB 121102. (Observatory Gemini / AURA / NSF / NRC)

For Kendrick Smith, a cosmologist at the Waterloo Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics, Ont., Who worked on detection software, FRB present a unique challenge.

"FRB was an unexpected mystery. There is not so much qualitative secret in astrophysics, "Smith said. "That is why explaining their nature has become one of the biggest unresolved problems in astrophysics over the last few years."

FRBs are similar to pulsars, small and rapidly rotating, dense stars that emit signals when they rotate like a cosmic lighthouse. But these pulsars were found in our galaxy. To detect FRBs from other galaxies means that the trillion signal must be brighter than a pulse.

"This is followed by 12 zeros. This is huge," said Shriharsh Tendulka, an astronomer from McGill University and a member of the CHIME team. "We have no idea how to do something so bright."

Repeating FRBs may be a rare finding, but they are even more unknown than individuals. In conventional FRBs, only one tip is emitted. But in two repetitors, astronomers have found that there are different peaks at slightly different frequencies and times.

"We can not see these types of structures from other rapid radio bursts that are in one single explosion," Tendulkar said. "So it's exciting. It can show the difference between their internal mechanisms."

These 13 FRBs, including the repeater, were detected at a much lower frequency than previously. Most FRBs found are in frequencies close to 1400 megahertz (MHz). However, they were detected in the band between 400 and 800 MHz.

"The CHIME frequency band is sitting in this gap, where we did not know anything, so this is fantastic," Tendulkar said. "This gives us much more information."


The stairs attribute the findings to the "incredible team" of post-doctoral researchers and is convinced that there are even more findings on the horizon.

"CHIME watches the entire North Sky every day, so there's plenty of room to find more of these things," she said. "The fact that we have found something else that in a way means that there can be much more there."

Regarding the FRB's secrets, especially the recurring ones, the Canadian team hopes CHIME will now be able to show up with the full capacity of several of these repetitors.

"CHIME is still in the early days and most of the interesting results have not yet come," Smith said.

Article by Nicole Mortillaro, originally published at

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