'There could be more out there': Mysterious radio bursts coming from space

'There could be more out there': Mysterious radio bursts coming from space

Knowing where they are, she furthered, "will enable scientists to point their telescopes at them, creating an opportunity to study these mysterious signals in detail".

Ever since FRBs were first detected, scientists have been piecing together the observed characteristics of signals to come up with models that might explain the sources of the mysterious bursts.

Rapid bursts themselves are not rare in space.

At distances of billions of light years it's obviously very hard to test any of these theories, but detecting more FRBs, especially those that have a habit of repeating, could bring us closer to an explanation. Harvard University Professor Abraham Loeb a year ago said FRBs could originate from planet-sized transmitters that are used to propel giant spaceships by bouncing radio waves off their huge reflective sheets.

A member the team Dr Cherry Ng from the University of Toronto in Canada said: "That could mean in some sort of dense clump like a supernova remnant".

Of more than 60 FRBs detected to date, such repeating bursts have only been picked up once before, by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 2015.

This repeating FRB is one of thirteen (the rest are single bursts) announced today by scientists. 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.

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

But, until this most recent work, only one repeating FRB, known as FRB 121102, had been observed. Seeing a signal at all indicates something big, like a black hole collision, could be the cause.

Stairs said that with CHIME, "mapping the entire northern hemisphere every day, we're bound to find more repeaters over time". "We would like to know what kinds of objects these are and how they are related to other explosions and objects that we know of (gamma-ray bursts, supernovae, neutron stars etc)", Tendulkar said. Astronomers have grappled with this mystery for years because, while they continue to observe bursts, they are still unsure of what causes them. The new observations suggest FRBs are common at lower frequencies.

Indeed, it's still early days in our understanding of FRBs, but a pair of papers published today in Nature are offering tantalising new clues about this enigmatic feature of the cosmos. The detection by CHIME of FRBs at lower frequencies means some of these theories will need to be reconsidered. Currently, the origin of the signals is unknown.

Studying FRBs is hard because they are so rare. While interesting, these new observations, he said, can not tell us about the nature of these sources-at least not yet.

"We have discovered a second repeater and its properties are very similar to the first repeater. But it has to be in some special place tog I've us all the scattering that we see".

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