Sunday, 16 June, 2019

What Some Astronomers Discovered Behind the Milky Way

The CHIME telescope can detect many more of enigmatic pulses now that it is fully operational The CHIME telescope can detect many more of enigmatic pulses now that it is fully
Sandy Nunez | 12 January, 2019, 09:57

FRBs are flashes of radio waves that last just milliseconds before disappearing; the signals originate from unknown sources outside the Milky Way, though theories range from blackholes and stars producing magnetic fields to extraterrestrials.

In a new paper published Wednesday in Nature, researchers reveal that a recently unveiled radio telescope in British Columbia - the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) - captured 13 more FRBs, but more importantly, it caught a second repeating FRB.

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.

The most recent spate of FRBs, including the 'repeater, ' was discovered by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (or CHIME), which picked up a total of fourteen FRBs, including six from the same source. Harvard University Professor Abraham Loeb previous year said FRBs could originate from planet-sized transmitters that are used to propel giant spaceships by bouncing radio waves off their huge reflective sheets.

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.

A mysterious repeating radio signal has been detected from far outside our galaxy - only the second ever recorded.

The detection by CHIME of FRBs at lower frequencies means some of these theories will need to be reconsidered.

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The repeating burst was among 13 fast radio bursts (FRB) recorded by a radio telescope located in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley.

But, from whatever little data exists, most scientists do not believe that FRBs are attempts by aliens to contact us.

Artist's impression of the active galactic nucleus shows the supermassive black hole at the center of the accretion disk sending a narrow high-energy jet of matter into space, perpendicular to the disc in this image by Science Communication Lab in Kiel Germany, released on July 12, 2018.

As such, scientists believe that FRBs have a natural origin, and because of its short few millisecond-long duration, could possibly be the effect of the merging of neutron stars. For starters, the existence of repeating FRBs like the one captured a year ago could rule out some possible origins.

There's one near-certainty: these bursts are likely to be much more common. "This tells us more about the properties of repeaters as a population", said Shriharsh Tendulkar of McGill University, Canada.

"That could mean in some sort of dense clump like a supernova remnant", said Cherry Ng, an astronomer at the University of Toronto in Canada. "We haven't solved the problem, but it's several more pieces in the puzzle".

Supernovas, black holes, quasars - there are lots of unusual, high-energy items out there in the universe, and who knows what happens when they combine? "But it has to be in some special place to give us all the scattering that we see".