Monday, 25 March, 2019

Revolutionary radio telescope detects bevy of fast radio bursts

The uniquely shaped CHIME telescope in British Columbia The uniquely shaped CHIME telescope in British
Sandra Phillips | 11 January, 2019, 19:29

Scientists have detected the second repeating fast radio burst (FRB) ever recorded, a discovery that may help determine the origin of these mysterious signals which have been linked with advanced alien technology in the past.

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.

More likely, CHIME's Shiryash Tendulkar says, is the possibility that they come from a "very strongly magnetized, rapidly spinning neutron star called a millisecond magnetar". "Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there", Ingrid Stairs, a member of the CHIME team and an astrophysicist at UBC, said.

In 2017, Harvard scientists have speculated that these FRBs might be leakage from planet-sized transmitters powering interstellar probes in distant galaxies.

One member of the team, Dr Cherry Ng, says the latest FRBs could be coming from "some sort of dense clump like a supernova [exploding star] remnant".

FRBs tend to be fleeting events, but a repeating FRB, named FRB 1211012, was detected by Puerto Rico's Arecibo radio telescope in 2012. The discovery of a repeater was a huge deal because it meant that the source of this particular FRB, and possibly others, wasn't the result of a cataclysmic explosion, but rather something that persists through time.

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.

Mysterious radio bursts detected deep in space could be evidence of aliens, researchers suggest.

'Or near the central black hole in a galaxy.

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

Having two sets of repeating bursts could also allow scientists to understand what distinguishes them from single bursts, helping them understand more about their source and watch for future blasts.

We still don't know what's create this or any other fast radio burst, which only adds to the mystery. But Kaspi said the FRB signals were strong all the way down to the lowest frequency CHIME could detect.

To process that, the team had to work out "how to scale the computations that are needed to do radio astronomy up to unprecedented volume".

The telescope processes radio signals recorded by thousands of atennas with a large signal processing system and is the largest of any on earth.

The differing frequencies of the two bursts suggest that they could have different places of origin. Some scientists suspect that these radio waves originate from black hole activity or solar flares that travel from billions of light-years away. While interesting, these new observations, he said, can not tell us about the nature of these sources-at least not yet.

Astronomers' studying of FRBs can teach those who study more about where the bursts come from, and whether that region in its galaxy is home to turbulent gas.

"We have discovered a second repeater and its properties are very similar to the first repeater".

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