CfA: Fast Radio Bursts May Be Firing Off Every Second

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CfA: Fast Radio Bursts May Be Firing Off Every Second

Post by bystander » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:05 pm

Fast Radio Bursts May Be Firing Off Every Second
Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | 2017 Sep 20
This artist's impression shows part of the cosmic web, a filamentary
structure of galaxies that extends across the entire sky. The bright
blue, point sources shown here are the signals from Fast Radio Bursts
(FRBs) that may accumulate in a radio exposure lasting for a few
minutes. The radio signal from an FRB lasts for only a few thousandths
of a second, but they should occur at high rates. Credit: M. Weiss/CfA

When fast radio bursts, or FRBs, were first detected in 2001, astronomers had never seen anything like them before. Since then, astronomers have found a couple of dozen FRBs, but they still don’t know what causes these rapid and powerful bursts of radio emission.

For the first time, two astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have estimated how many FRBs should occur over the entire observable universe. Their work indicates that at least one FRB is going off somewhere every second. ...

To make their estimate, Fialkov and co-author Avi Loeb assumed that FRB 121102, a fast radio burst located in a galaxy about 3 billion light years away, is representative of all FRBs. Because this FRB has produced repeated bursts since its discovery in 2002, astronomers have been able to study it in much more detail than other FRBs. Using that information, they projected how many FRBs would exist across the entire sky. ...

Fialkov and Loeb point out that FRBs can be used to study the structure and evolution of the Universe whether or not their origin is fully understood. A large population of faraway FRBs could act as probes of material across gigantic distances. ...

A Fast Radio Burst Occurs Every Second throughout the Observable Universe - Anastasia Fialkov, Abraham Loeb
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