of Radio Waves, with Origins Unknown
Massachusetts Institute of Technology | 2020 Jun 17
A team of astronomers, including researchers at MIT, has picked up on a curious, repeating rhythm of fast radio bursts emanating from an unknown source outside our galaxy, 500 million light years away.
- CHIME, pictured here, consists of four large antennas, each about the size and shape of a snowboarding half-pipe, and is designed with no moving parts. Rather than swiveling to focus on different parts of the sky, CHIME stares fixedly at the entire sky, looking for fast radio burst sources across the universe. Image: CHIME Collaboration
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are short, intense flashes of radio waves that are thought to be the product of small, distant, extremely dense objects, though exactly what those objects might be is a longstanding mystery in astrophysics. FRBs typically last a few milliseconds, during which time they can outshine entire galaxies.
Since the first FRB was observed in 2007, astronomers have catalogued over 100 fast radio bursts from distant sources scattered across the universe, outside our own galaxy. For the most part, these detections were one-offs, flashing briefly before disappearing entirely. In a handful of instances, astronomers observed fast radio bursts multiple times from the same source, though with no discernible pattern.
This new FRB source, which the team has catalogued as FRB 180916.J0158+65, is the first to produce a periodic, or cyclical pattern of fast radio bursts. The pattern begins with a noisy, four-day window, during which the source emits random bursts of radio waves, followed by a 12-day period of radio silence. ...
A Busy Signal from Outer Space
Yale University | 2020 Jun 17
Unexpected emission pattern adds to the enigma of fast radio bursts
Nature News & Views | 2020 Jun 17
Periodic Activity from a Fast Radio Burst Source ~ CHIME/FRB Collaboration et al
- Nature 582(7812):351 (18 Jun 2020) DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2398-2
- arXiv.org > astro-ph > arXiv:2001.10275 > 28 Jan 2020 (v1), 13 Feb 2020 (v4)