Astronomers intercept mysterious repeating radio signals from space

Astronomers intercept mysterious repeating radio signals from space

Astronomers intercept mysterious repeating radio signals from space

One of the newly detected bursts is a rare "repeater" - researchers saw six flashes coming from the same spot in the sky, which they hope will make it easier to pin down the source of the signal.

A group of scientists from the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research participated in research which was found to discover new fast radio bursts. Incredibly, these radio waves originate from distant galaxies, travelling at high energies through the cosmos for literally billions of years.

Given the telescope - mounted in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley - has already detected a second repeating FRB the researchers believe many more will follow.

The results from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), a interferometric radio telescope located in British Colombia, were unveiled at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington on Monday.

The other institutions with leading roles are the University of Toronto, the National Research Council of Canada, and the Perimeter Institute. It appears at a wavelength of 400 megahertz, far lower than the previous record of 700 megahertz.

Journal Nature reported that one of the FRBs - of which 60 total have been detected to date - was repeating.

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Unlike typical FRBs that come and go, the discovery of a repeating FRB is vital to increasing our understanding of them, as we are able to train our radio telescopes towards them to study them further.

But consecutive radio bursts are a special case.

The repeating FRBs were detected during CHIME's trial run earlier this summer, which used only a small amount of the telescope's potential power.

The precise cause of the blasts of radio waves is unknown. It's easier, therefore, to measure and understand these effects at lower frequencies.

However, the biggest of these mysteries is - are we all alone in the universe?

Two FRB repeat themselves. Some scientists suspect that these radio waves originate from black hole activity or solar flares that travel from billions of light-years away. It also recorded a repeating FRB, only the second time such a signal has been detected.

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They said the finding provides new details about the "puzzling" yet "brief" radio energy from outside the galaxy. Once CHIME was fully up-and-running, it heard the source a handful more times, always coming from the same direction of the sky, though astronomers are still trying to pinpoint an exact source. "I look forward to the day when we have hundreds of repeaters". "And we had the good luck to find 13 of these things in the pre-commissioning phase". While it was waiting to come fully online, it picked up these 13 FRBs.

"Extraordinary claims beg for extraordinary evidence, so for now, a simpler explanation based on known physical processes is preferred by most scientists", Pleunis said. 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.

Another interesting point to keep in mind, according to Loeb, is that the first repeater exhibited an associated persistent radio source, whereas the new repeater did not.

Astronomers are still trying to figure out what is causing the phenomena.

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