Scientists detect second repeating radio burst of unknown origin

  • Scientists detect second repeating radio burst of unknown origin

Scientists detect second repeating radio burst of unknown origin

In some of the 13 cases, the signal at the lower end of the band was so bright that it seems likely other FRBs will be detected at frequencies even lower than CHIME's minimum of 400 megahertz.

This sudden influx of tantalising clues has made astrophysicists nearly giddy. It could be anything, the astronomers say, from a natural, yet unknown, process in the Universe to messages coming from extraterrestrial civilizations.

A SETI project snatched a few just this fall, but another effort using a brand new radio telescope called CHIME that essentially points at the whole sky and chooses where to "look" using software.

This particular set of signals was registered by the CHIME observatory, located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, which consists of four 100-metre-long, semi-cylindrical antennas that are able to scan the entire northern sky each day.

CHIME has been fully operational since September.

The BBC reports that there are a number of theories about what could be causing the bursts. Ingrid stairs who is the member of CHIME Team have had an interview in which he said that till now there had been one repeated FRB and there are clearer confirmations that there would be more suggestions like there have been before out there. "But I think we're reaching the peak of that mountain".

Emily Petroff, an astronomer from ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, and an expert on FRBs, thought the methods "were particularly good" in these papers, and she liked how the CHIME astronomers didn't "over-interpret the data from shaky calibration".

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. They emit as much energy in one millisecond as the Sun in 10,000 years.

The scientists recently have highlighted the repeated radio signals blasts which have been coming from somewhere deep in the space. While these fast radio bursts (FRBs) are likely the result of black holes or strongly magnetized neutron stars, some say they could be evidence of far-flung alien life. It also recorded a repeating FRB, only the second time such a signal has been detected.

CHIME detected 13 FRBs in July and August, according to Nature, a British scientific journal. "We still have a sample size of only two". Some scientists suspect that these radio waves originate from black hole activity or solar flares that travel from billions of light-years away.

"The CHIME frequency band sits in this gap where we didn't know anything about, so that's fantastic", Tendulkar said. The latest one repeats itself and, therefore, it's actually possible to track it back to the source. A repeating FRB, however, provides more opportunities for scientists to learn about these radio bursts and where they come from.

But, as it stands, all of these answers stem from the realm of possibility.

"We are very far from that yet", Ng said.