Scientists in Okanagan Valley detect radio bursts from distant galaxy

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It's called FRB 180814.J0422+73, and in the space of three weeks beginning in August 2018, it flared six times in repetition, as captured by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) radio telescope.

Fast radio bursts are short, millisecond-long radio waves that come from billions of light years outside of the Milky Way galaxy, and for the second time ever, scientists have detected one that has been repeated, suggesting that it's coming from the same location.

"Until now, there was only one known repeating FRB", said astrophysicist Ingrid Stairs of the University of British Columbia in Canada.

The team, which includes Masui and Kavli postdoc Juan Mena Parra, presented their findings at this week's American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle. Once CHIME is running at full capacity, it may discover many, many more FRBs-potentially thousands per day.

Nonetheless, the mystery of these fast radio burst signals is maintained by how few the scientists know about what produces these bursts.

Of more than 60 FRBs detected to date, such repeating bursts have only been picked up once before, by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 2015.

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Dr Ryan Shannon from Swinburne University of Technology said 20 fast radio bursts were detected in a year, "almost doubling the number detected worldwide since they were discovered in 2007". "The closest analogs we have in our own galaxies (pulsars) are more than a trillion times fainter", Tendulkar said about the repeating FRB.

Team member Dr Arun Naidu, a space physicist at McGill University in Montreal, said: "Whatever the source of these radio waves is it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce". The majority of previously detected FRBs were found at frequencies near 1400 MHz. The latest burst of signals were recorded at a frequency of 400 megahertz, whereas the first burst was recorded at a higher frequency of 700 megahertz.

The new FRBs are are also at unusually low radio frequencies.

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.

"An FRB emitted from a merger of two neutron stars, or a neutron star and a black hole, for example, can not repeat". The frequency patterns also share some characteristics with magnetars, those rotating neutron stars that have always been suspected to be FRB sources. "The luminosity difference is many, many orders of magnitude", she said.

Seeing two repeating signals probably means there exists a "substantial population" of repeating signals, the researchers write in one of the two papers published in Nature.

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