The first FRB was recorded in 2001 and identified in 2007, while the first repeating FRB was detected in 2012. Incredibly, these radio waves originate from distant galaxies, travelling at high energies through the cosmos for literally billions of years.
Fast radio bursts have been speculated to be the result of everything from exploding stars to transmissions from aliens.
Seeing two repeating signals probably means there exists a "substantial population" of repeating signals, the researchers write in one of the two papers published in Nature. "We don't know the precise distance to the second one yet".
CHIME, which is short for Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, is a type of interferometric radio telescope featuring half-cylinder dishes that observe the same section of sky every day. Launched in 2017, the project is a collaboration of Canadian scientists from the University of British Columbia, McGill University, the University of Toronto, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and the National Research Council of Canada.
All in all researchers spotted 13 bursts in a three week period. The detection by CHIME of FRBs at lower frequencies means some of these theories will need to be reconsidered. CHIME is created to detect FRBs within the 400 to 800 MHz range. 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.
"Different emission mechanisms expect that FRBs will be emitted within a certain range of radio frequencies, much like a light bulb can not emit X-rays or a microwave oven can not emit ultraviolet light", Tendulkar told Gizmodo. Whatever the photons pass through, that interaction is recorded in the radio waves and can be "translated" after it's received by the telescope.
"It is extremely, extremely unlikely", said Tendulkar. CHIME measures scattering more precisely than other instruments because it operates at lower frequencies.
"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.
As for the new repeater, it's called FRB 180814.J0422+73. Dozens of mysterious radio signals have been noted by scientists with telescopes being used all over the world to track its source. With this new discovery, astronomers are now hopeful of finding even more repeaters. "Our data will break open some of the mysteries of FRBs". "Maybe repeaters aren't as rare as FRB 121102 led us to fear".
Petroff was also surprised that CHIME found so many FRBs so quickly. "The closest analogs we have in our own galaxies (pulsars) are more than a trillion times fainter", Tendulkar said about the repeating FRB.
"It's still too early to tell for sure", he said.
"At the end of a year we may have found 1,000 more bursts". Excitingly, it bears striking similarities to the first repeating FRB.