Mysterious 'repeater' fast radio burst detected from faraway galaxy

Pat Wise
January 13, 2019

Scientists have discovered mysterious repeating radio bursts coming from space for the first time since 2007.

"Until now, there was only one known repeating FRB", Ingrid Stairs, a member of the CHIME team and an astrophysicist at the University of British Columbia, said. Several weeks ago, however, 13 new bursts were detected within two months. Although the source of the object is still unknown, Loeb was one of the scientists suggesting that it was probably an alien probe falling off from the galaxy after completing its mission.

What makes this even cooler is that these were just test observations for the telescope - it wasn't even operating at full capacity. However, one of those bursts, the repetitive fast radio burst, is the second repetitive one ever discovered by researchers. That repeating FRB seemed to have originated from a galaxy located about 2.5 billion light-years from Earth. For starters, the existence of repeating FRBs like the one captured previous year could rule out some possible origins. They also said that finding more repeaters may shed light on the mysteries of this cosmic puzzle, which include where FRBs are from and what causes them. Theories on the source of FRBs range from a rapidly rotating neutron star, to a black hole, or even extraterrestrial intelligence. "But it has to be in some special place to give us all the scattering that we see".

They found that one of the FRBs was repeating.

Canada's new radio telescope, CHIME is made up of four 100-metre-long antennas, which scan the entire northern sky each day.

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The first rapid burst that repeated was named FRB 121102 and was detected by Arecibo radio telescope in 2015.

Over time, Stairs says researchers will hopefully be able to develop a "clearer picture" that could lead to figuring out what exactly is producing these radio waves. The other study reports on the detection of an FRB with six repeat bursts, all of them originating from the same location 1.5 billion light years from Earth. "It helps us build a more complete picture of the Universe".

"This tells us more about the properties of repeaters as a population".

Among them is Professor Avid Loeb, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the U.S., who believes that they could be evidence of incredibly advanced alien technology. Other bursts could be emitted at lower frequencies, but if this were the case, our current telescopes would not be able to detect them (400 megahertz is the limit).

The majority of the 13 FRBs detected showed signs of 'scattering, ' a phenomenon that reveals information about the environment surrounding a source of radio waves.

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