Astronomers detect radio signals from deep space

"They include a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly, two neutron stars merging together, and, among a minority of observers, some form of alien spaceship", their report says.

The CHIME team's results - published January 9 in two papers in Nature and presented the same day at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle - settled these doubts, with the majority of the 13 bursts being recorded well down to the lowest frequencies in CHIME's range.

The CHIME observatory in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada.

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.

Another interesting twist has to do with the radio frequencies of the newly detected bursts. 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.

IANS reported that the detection by Chime of FRBs at lower frequencies means some of these theories will need to be reconsidered.

As technology improves and instruments used to study the cosmos become more and more advanced, we're answering a lot of questions about our place in the universe, but we're also coming up with entirely new ones. The radio bursts were observed by CHIME at frequencies between 400 megahertz (MHz) and 800 MHz. "Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there". It's easier, therefore, to measure and understand these effects at lower frequencies.

The mystery of fast radio bursts has always been a large part of their appeal, Ng said.

As for the new repeater, it's called FRB 180814.J0422+73. Some scientists suspect that these radio waves originate from black hole activity or solar flares that travel from billions of light-years away.

Of more than 60 fast radio bursts detected so far, only one of them has ever repeated.

Stairs credits the discoveries to an "amazing team" of post-doctoral researchers and is confident more findings are on the horizon. "But intelligent life is not on the minds of any astronomer as a source of these FRBs".

Until now, only one FRB - which was labeled FRB 112102 - was found to repeat itself later on.

"I think that bodes very well for all the FRB searches coming online in the near future", she told Gizmodo. That's about twice as close as the other repeater, FRB 121102.

Good said that "if we had 1,000 examples, we would be able to say many more things about what FRBs are like".

"At this point we simply don't know what is causing [FRBs]", space writer Paul Scott Anderson said.

Experts have debated whether black holes or super-dense neutron stars are responsible, but others have suggested more outlandish theories. The first FRB was recorded in 2001 and identified in 2007, while the first repeating FRB was detected in 2012.

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