Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Mysterious radio signals from outer space detected

FRB Origin Radio Signals From A Galaxy Light Years Away Have Been Reported
Frank Williams | 12 January, 2019, 14:25

"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce".

The first FRB was spotted, or rather "heard" by radio telescopes, back in 2001 but wasn't discovered until 2007 when scientists were analysing archival data. Instead it uses digital signal processing to "point" the telescope and reconstruct where the radio waves are coming from. Since then, scientists have detected more than 60 bursts, with only one - recorded in 2012 at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico - being a repeater.

But exactly what is causing these powerful radio signals that are travelling from distant galaxies isn't known. "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".

"These repeat bursts are consistent with originating from a single position on the sky, with the same dispersion measure", the researchers' report states of the detected "repeater". It left astronomers scratching their heads over an already freakish cosmic puzzle. "We have tantalizing clues, but it's hard to make definitive conclusions,"astronomer Shriharsh Tendulkar of McGill University in Montreal, a member of the CHIME team, told Science News".

Publishing its findings to two different papers in Nature (here and here), the team said this latest repeating FRB was one of 13 new bursts detected in the space of just two weeks in the summer of 2018.

For Kendrick Smith, a cosmologist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont., who worked on the software making the detection, FRBs represent a unique challenge. "There aren't so many qualitative mysteries in astrophysics", Smith said.

"At the end of a year we may have found 1,000 more bursts".

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One of the astronomers involved in the discovery, Deborah Good, said to Nature that they do not have almost enough data to even begin explaining what makes FRBs. However, these pulsars have been found in our galaxy. The repeater was detected at least five separate times by the telescope.

"Until now, there was only one known repeating FRB".

As for the new repeater, it's called FRB 180814.J0422+73.

However, the biggest of these mysteries is - are we all alone in the universe? "So that is exciting". CHIME can only record signals between 400 MHz and 800 MHz. "It gives us a lot more information".

"Much more likely is that it's a demonstration of just how creative, how handsome nature can be".

Canada's new radio telescope, CHIME is made up of four 100-metre-long antennas, which scan the entire northern sky each day. One of the most important things will, of course, be to determine where the signals are coming from and what the cause is.

CHIME, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, is not yet working at full capacity.

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