Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by janrinok on Thursday June 10, @02:52PM   Printer-friendly

CHIME Telescope Detects More Than 500 Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts From Outer Space:

To catch sight of a fast radio burst is to be extremely lucky in where and when you point your radio dish. Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are oddly bright flashes of light, registering in the radio band of the electromagnetic spectrum, that blaze for a few milliseconds before vanishing without a trace.

These brief and mysterious beacons have been spotted in various and distant parts of the universe, as well as in our own galaxy. Their origins are unknown, and their appearance is unpredictable. Since the first was discovered in 2007, radio astronomers have only caught sight of around 140 bursts in their scopes.

Now, a large stationary radio telescope in British Columbia has nearly quadrupled the number of fast radio bursts discovered to date. The telescope, known as CHIME, for the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, has detected 535 new fast radio bursts during its first year of operation, between 2018 and 2019.

Scientists with the CHIME Collaboration, including researchers at MIT, have assembled the new signals in the telescope's first FRB catalog, which they will present this week at the American Astronomical Society Meeting.

The new catalog significantly expands the current library of known FRBs, and is already yielding clues as to their properties. For instance, the newly discovered bursts appear to fall in two distinct classes: those that repeat, and those that don't. Scientists identified 18 FRB sources that burst repeatedly, while the rest appear to be one-offs. The repeaters also look different, with each burst lasting slightly longer and emitting more focused radio frequencies than bursts from single, nonrepeating FRBs.

These observations strongly suggest that repeaters and one-offs arise from separate mechanisms and astrophysical sources. With more observations, astronomers hope soon to pin down the extreme origins of these curiously bright signals.

"Before CHIME, there were less than 100 total discovered FRBs; now, after one year of observation, we've discovered hundreds more," says CHIME member Kaitlyn Shin, a graduate student in MIT's Department of Physics. "With all these sources, we can really start getting a picture of what FRBs look like as a whole, what astrophysics might be driving these events, and how they can be used to study the universe going forward."


Original Submission

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday June 10, @04:13PM (5 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday June 10, @04:13PM (#1143918)

    At some point I saw something about the difference in time of arrival of GRBs and associated FRBs and bright light flashes which seems like an interesting thing to study.

    On the one hand, Betelgeuse dimming is a fairly benign thing - we're pretty sure we know what it might do at some point and as impressive as the show is expected to be, it's pretty well defined / bounded and shouldn't result in too much additional stress on Earth's ecosystems.

    On the other hand, we know almost nothing about FRBs other than their relative rarity, but the what-if potential is huge. Not even Betelgeuse, maybe a random nearby star encounters a smaller black hole, or something more exotic, and as a result lases Earth with a deadly particle/energy stream - it's the kind of thing we probably wouldn't see coming. It's also the kind of trick that advanced intergalactic civilizations would probably learn how to do on purpose...

    --
    My karma ran over your dogma.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 2) by Socrastotle on Thursday June 10, @04:33PM (1 child)

    by Socrastotle (13446) on Thursday June 10, @04:33PM (#1143928) Journal

    It's also the kind of thing that could, at least potentially, explain the Fermi Paradox. One hypothesis for the Ordovician mass extinction event, was a gamma ray burst.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday June 10, @05:01PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday June 10, @05:01PM (#1143946)

      Spoiler alert: the Milky Way's local cluster has been designated a "Level 3 limited" zone by the Universal directorate. Any life found to be capable of interstellar propagation is to be sterilized by narrow beam GRB, after harvest of any interesting cultural artifacts... the primitives can be so amusing sometimes.

      --
      My karma ran over your dogma.
  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Friday June 11, @05:17PM (2 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) on Friday June 11, @05:17PM (#1144302) Homepage Journal

    At some point I saw something about the difference in time of arrival of GRBs and associated FRBs and bright light flashes which seems like an interesting thing to study.

    Doesn't loop quantum gravity predict a very slight difference in the velocity of light depending on frequency? I seen to remember reading that it might amount to a few microseconds after a journey from the farthest known observables.

    Is this of the right magnitude? Is it even in the right direction?

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday June 11, @05:28PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday June 11, @05:28PM (#1144309)

      I think the delay was on the order of seconds - maybe 10s of seconds. Article at the time was hypothesizing something about the first wave emanating from the core of the dying star while the later wave waited until the shock wave traveled to its surface, or something along those lines.
       

      --
      My karma ran over your dogma.