Astronomers intercept mysterious repeating radio signals from space

FRB Origin

They include a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly, two neutron stars merging together, and, among a minority of observers, some form of alien spaceship.

The first one, deemed FRB 121102, was discovered in 2015 by the Arecibo radio telescope, and it was revealed in 2018 that the bursts release an enormous amount of energy.

All in all researchers spotted 13 bursts in a three week period.

Scientists at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research are part of a team that has discovered 13 fast radio bursts (FRBs), as well as the second repeating FRB ever recorded, using a revolutionary radio telescope.

Team member Dr Cherry Ng, from the University of Toronto, Canada, said: 'That could mean in some sort of dense clump like a supernova (exploding star) remnant. The radio bursts were observed by CHIME at frequencies between 400 megahertz (MHz) and 800 MHz. As the Earth rotates, the portion of the universe in that small sky section is visible to the telescope, which was designed specifically to monitor FRBs.

The FRBs show various temporal scattering behaviours, with the majority significantly scattered, and some apparently unscattered to within measurement uncertainty even at our lowest frequencies.

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.

"We built this instrument specifically to try and detect these fast radio bursts, and we were still in our pre-commissioning phase, running with only partial sensitivity and taking the system up and down every day or so, and yet we still detected these 13 bursts, pretty much when we turned the instrument on".

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Scientists said that they have observed blasts of radio signals coming from deep in space.

However, Tendulkar said it was extremely unlikely the waves were caused by intelligent life. "Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there". It's easier, therefore, to measure and understand these effects at lower frequencies.

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

The only other known repeated radio burst was captured in 2012 and originated in a galaxy 2.5 billion light-years away from Earth, Nature reported.

Of more than 60 fast radio bursts detected so far, only one of them has ever repeated. With this new discovery, astronomers are now hopeful of finding even more repeaters.

Some background: The first repeating burst was discovered back in 2007 by looking through data recorded six years before that.

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

That high rate of discovery suggests that FBRs, let alone repeating FBRs, may not be as unique as we think, said Perimeter Institute faculty member Kendrick Smith.

An artist impression of the outer casing of a neutron star. Where are they coming from? "But it has to be in some special place tog I've us all the scattering that we see".

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