Scientists find hundreds of examples of mysterious radio blasts coming from deep in the universe

Scientists say they have found hundreds more examples of mysterious bursts of radio energy coming from deep in the universe.

After a Canadian telescope detected 535 new examples, the number of fast radio bursts listed has increased dramatically.

Rapid radio bursts are very powerful, but extremely low-energy bursts that reach us from unknown sources in the distant universe. Researchers have been searching for their source for years, since they were first discovered in 2007, of which only 140 examples are known.

But now that number has quadrupled. Researchers using a Canadian telescope called CHIME say they have found 535 examples in its first year of operation between 2018 and 2019.

As well as broadly expanding the current list of FRBs, it has been discovered that there are specific types of them: some repeat, while others do not. Of the sources, 18 seem to repeat and the rest do not – and those that repeat have different characteristics, lasting slightly longer and emitting in more concentrated frequencies.

Researchers have assembled the findings into a new FRB catalog they hope can be used to further understand where the eruptions are coming from.

“Before CHIME, the total FRBs discovered were less than 100; now, after a year of observation, we have discovered hundreds more,” said CHIME member Caitlin Shin, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Physics, in a statement.

“With all these sources, we can really begin to get a picture of what the FRB looks like as a whole, what astrophysics is driving these events, and use them to study the universe going forward.” How can it be done.”

The researchers hope that the results can be used not only to study the FRBs themselves, but to use them to measure other important features of the universe. For example, they could serve as a way to map how gas is distributed throughout the universe.

“Each FRB gives us some information about how far they have propagated and how much gas they have propagated,” Shin said.

“With a large number of FRBs, we can expect to see how gas and matter are distributed on very large scales in the universe. Therefore, the mystery of what the FRBs themselves are, as well as, may be useful for powerful cosmological investigations in the future. There is exciting potential for FRBs as well.”

Researchers are still exploring what extreme and exotic conditions would be able to release such energy for such a short period. While speculation has covered everything from black holes to extraterrestrial technology, the leading theory is that they are the result of outgrowths of young magnetars, or neutron stars with very powerful magnetic fields.

That theory was further boosted last month by researchers who tracked the eruptions to their exact locations, finding that many of them were placed on the sprawling curved tentacles of spiral galaxies.


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