Sci-tech

Scientists discover mysterious radio signals from distant galaxy. What are they?

Scientists discover mysterious radio signals from distant galaxy. What are they?

"One of those 13 fast radio bursts that we found is a repeating burst, it has shown up on many days since those initial observations, and this is only the second repeating fast radio burst ever found", Stairs explains.

FRBs are short bursts of radio waves coming from far outside our Milky Way galaxy and scientists believe FRBs come out from powerful astrophysical phenomena billions of light years away.

One hypothesis is that powerful astrophysical phenomena are causing them.

An artist impression of the outer casing of a neutron star.

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

Repeating FRBs are even more rare, with the first, labeled FRB 112102, detected in 2007 following a review of telescope data that had been collected in 2001.

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Having two sets of repeating bursts could also allow scientists to understand what distinguishes them from single bursts, helping them understand more about their source and watch for future blasts. As the Earth rotates, the portion of the universe in that small sky section is visible to the telescope, which was designed specifically to monitor FRBs.

The so-called repeating fast radio bursts were identified during the trial run last summer of a built-for-purpose telescope running at only a fraction of its capacity.

Scientists are unsure where the bursts originate, but believe they are created by black holes or super-dense neutron stars, according to the Press Association.

The discoveries, described in two papers in Nature, were presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.

FRBs are short, bright flashes of radio waves, which appear to be coming from nearly halfway across the universe.

NASA research scientist Dr Jessie Christiansen said "astronomers are super excited to find out more, but generally do not think it is extraterrestrial". Most FRBs found are at frequencies near 1400 megahertz (MHz).

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"Now we know that FRBs are detectable at 400 MHz, and should be detectable at even lower frequencies", Tendulkar said.

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

Astronomers' studying of FRBs can teach those who study more about where the bursts come from, and whether that region in its galaxy is home to turbulent gas. To search for FRBs, the telescope will continuously scan the sky for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Such signals have only ever been detected once before, by a different telescope. "We haven't solved the problem, but it's several more pieces in the puzzle", Tom Landecker, a Chime team member from the National Research Council of Canada, said.

"The findings are just the beginning of CHIME's discoveries", said Stairs."In the next phase, we plan to capture the full high-resolution data stream from the brightest bursts, which will let us better understand their positions, characteristics and magnetic environments".

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