Repeating Fast Radio Burst Detected for Second Time in History

Scientists Find 13 Mysterious Deep Space Flashes Including 2nd Known'Repeater

Image: The telescope detected the signals over a three week period during the summer.

The findings were announced by Deborah Good, an astronomer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington on Wednesday.

The researchers said that studying the fast radio bursts is a hard task because they're rare and only occur once. Until now, there had only been one repeating fast radio burst - this provides valuable data.

Scientists at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research are part of a team that has discovered 13 fast radio bursts (FRBs), as well as the second repeating FRB ever recorded, using a revolutionary radio telescope.

"And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles - where they're from and what causes them", he said.

Thirteen flashes were seen via a new radio telescope dubbed the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, affectionately known as Chime. One FRB in particular, FRB 121102, is special because it's the only one that seems to be repeating its signal blasts on a regular basis. "In principle, there might be two separate types of sources, as in the case of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), where long-duration GRBs (lasting more than a few seconds) are linked to the collapse of massive stars and short-duration GRBs are linked to mergers of neutrons stars". Astronomers have grappled with this mystery for years because, while they continue to observe bursts, they are still unsure of what causes them.

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Fast radio bursts have been speculated to be the result of everything from exploding stars to transmissions from aliens.

Astronomers have spotted a second repeating fast radio burst, and it looks a lot like the first.

The FRBs discovered were omitting unusually low frequencies, with previously detected FRBs having frequencies around 1,400 megahertz and the new discoveries bellow 800 MHz.

CHIME maps the entire northern hemisphere every day, said Stairs, meaning it's only a matter of time before more repeating FRBs are detected. But Kaspi said the FRB signals were strong all the way down to the lowest frequency CHIME could detect.

A majority of the intercepted fast radio bursts shows signs of "scattering", a phenomenon that reveals information about the environment where the radio waves originated from, Phys.org reported. FRBs are typically in the 1,400 MHz range, and the previous lowest radio frequency was at 700 MHz.

"[We now know] the sources can produce low-frequency radio waves and those low-frequency waves can escape their environment, and are not too scattered to be detected by the time they reach the earth". "That tells us something about the environments and the sources". The $16-million investment for CHIME was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the governments of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, with additional funding from the Dunlap Institute, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

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