Mysterious radio signals from outer space detected

10 Janvier, 2019, 04:56 | Auteur: Therese Cote

Chime astrophysicist Dr Ingrid Stairs, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said: "Until now, there was only one known repeating FRB".

'Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there. It was reportedly a very unusual repeating signal, coming from the same source, approximately 1.5 billion light years away. Some scientists had anxious that the range of frequencies it can pick up would be too low for it to receive the FRBs - but it found far more than expected, and scientists expect it to identify even more. One FRB in particular, FRB 121102, is special because it's the only one that seems to be repeating its signal blasts on a regular basis.

There's no definitive cause of these fast radio bursts and it's unclear what caused multiple FRBs from the same location.

We may soon find out thanks to some mysterious signals that were recently picked up by a telescope in British Columbia.

"And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles - where they're from and what causes them", he said.

The radio waves were detected by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), the world's most powerful radio telescope, spread across an area as big as a football pitch.

The telescope has been in use for only a year, detecting 13 of the radio bursts nearly immediately, including the repeater.

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The repeating signals are brief but powerful phenomena, and they are estimated to be energetically comparable to the total output of the sun over 100 years, Space.com noted.

"We have discovered a second repeater and its properties are very similar to the first repeater", said Shriharsh Tendulkar of McGill University, Canada.

"[We now know] the sources can produce low-frequency radio waves and those low-frequency waves can escape their environment, and are not too scattered to be detected by the time they reach the Earth", said Tom Landecker, a CHIME team member.

Some have proposed explanations, such as energy being flung as black holes tear stars apart, or perhaps even distant alien civilizations sending out long-range signals in the hopes of finding intelligent life.

The fast radio bursts (FRBs) have come from deep space with their origin unknown.

The discovery is a sign that there could be even more repeating FRBs out there waiting to be found - and maybe even an answer to the mystery of their source. "Or near the central black hole in a galaxy. But it has to be in some special place tog I've us all the scattering that we see". 400 Mhz is the lower limit of the CHIME experiment at the moment, so other FRBs at lower frequencies could simply be going undetected. "There are some models where intrinsically the source can't produce anything below a certain frequency", says team member Arun Naidu of McGill University.

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