Second Mysterious Fast Radio Burst Detected From Outer Space

12 Janvier, 2019, 09:58 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Scientists Find 13 Mysterious Deep Space Flashes Including 2nd Known'Repeater

"Fast Radio Bursts are brief (few millisecond) bursts of radio waves coming from far beyond our Milky Way galaxy". Incredibly, these radio waves originate from distant galaxies, travelling at high energies through the cosmos for literally billions of years.

They include exploding stars, stars with strong magnetic fields, stars merging together and - among a minority of observers - some form of alien spaceship!

FILE - The world's largest single-dish radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, photographed July 13, 2016. The discovery of a repeater was a huge deal because it meant that the source of this particular FRB, and possibly others, wasn't the result of a cataclysmic explosion, but rather something that persists through time.

The findings were described in two papers published in the journal Nature. That burst was remarkable in another way-it's only the second "repeating" FRB ever discovered.

The telescope, which resembles a set of skateboarding half-pipes, was built as part of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) to record radio signals from outer space.

CHIME is a collaboration of more than 50 scientists led by the University of British Columbia, McGill University, University of Toronto, and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

The radio telescope was still in its pre-commissioning phase and operating with only a small amount of its full capacity in the summer of 2018 when it detected this and 12 singular fast radio bursts.

Most previously detected FRBs have had frequencies of around 1,400 megahertz (MHz), but the new ones fell within a range below 800 MHz. "It might point to a difference between their internal mechanisms".

The BBC reports that there are a number of theories about what could be causing the bursts. A lucky moment in 2015 resulted in the detection of multiple FRBs coming from the same location, which differs from random fast radio bursts that appear isolated in different locations.

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Exactly what causes these high-energy surges of long waves at the far end of the electromagnetic spectrum remains the subject of intense debate. That suggests there might be even more of them, too low to be picked up by telescopes.

Two FRB repeat themselves. For the second time, scientists have been able to pick a weird radio signal. The repeating signals flashed from the same spot in the sky (from an estimated 1.5 billion light-years away) six times over the course of several months.

The most likely explanation is that they were created by powerful objects in space.

But, from whatever little data exists, most scientists do not believe that FRBs are attempts by aliens to contact us.

However, CHIME has now added 13 additional FRBs and a second repeater to the list. "I look forward to the day when we have hundreds of repeaters".

When faced with an enigma like this, the standard scientific mantra applies: we need more data.

Theories range from highly magnetized neutron stars blasted by gas streams from a nearby supermassive black hole, to signatures of technology developed by an advanced civilisation.

"It is extremely, extremely unlikely", Tendulkar said. "But it has to be in some special place to give us all the scattering that we see".

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