'Repeating' radio waves from deep space baffle scientists

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'Repeating' radio waves from deep space baffle scientists

One of the fast radio bursts they found flashed repeatedly - only the second ever recorded to do so.

One of the newly detected bursts is a rare "repeater" - researchers saw six flashes coming from the same spot in the sky, which they hope will make it easier to pin down the source of the signal. Those include: a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly and two neutron stars merging together. While most other FRBs detected were recorded at between 1400 megahertz (MHz) and 2000 MHz, these bursts were found at 400-800 MHz, far lower than ever before.

Astronomers from the University of British Columbia have picked up 13 radio burst signals emanating from an unknown source they claim is about 1.5 billion light years away.

In 2017 Professor Loeb and Harvard colleague Manasvi Lingham proposed that FRBs could be leakage from planet-sized alien transmitters.

When the first fast radio burst was detected, in 2007, many scientists thought it had to be a result of some telescopic mix-up.

Scientists searching for fast radio bursts (FRBs) that some believe may be signals sent from aliens may be happening every second. Only 60 FRB sources have been detected, including the 13 announced today.

While a bunch of FRBs have been detected previously, this is only the second time one's been observed to repeat itself.

Some of the signal-scattering patterns suggest that the sources of the bursts have to be in special types of locations - for example, in supernova remnants, star-forming regions or around black holes.

Interestingly, astrophysicist Emily Petroff, the first person to identify a FRB in real time, pointed out the similarities between the new "repeater" and the only other one to have been discovered.

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. Astronomers have grappled with this mystery for years because, while they continue to observe bursts, they are still unsure of what causes them.

"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce".

While most FRBs have been spotted at wavelengths of a few centimetres, the latest FRBs were detected at wavelengths of almost a metre, which opens up new lines of inquiry, according to the CHIME team.

The repeater, known as FRB 180814.J0422+73, is located about 1.5 billion light-years from Earth, astronomers told Space.com.

The fast radio bursts suggest there could be more out there, researchers say. While interesting, these new observations, he said, can not tell us about the nature of these sources-at least not yet. "But it has to be in some special place to give us all the scattering that we see", said Ng. If scientists can figure out how FRBs ought to look when they leave their sources, they may be able to probe the intergalactic medium by studying the way the signals change.

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