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The Chime Telescope Does it Again

CHIME Telescope at night. Credit: CHIME.

McGill University researchers announced yesterday that a Canadian-led team of scientists has found a second repeating fast radio burst (FRB). 

As discussed in previous articles on CHIME, FRBs are flash-like bursts of radio energy with an extragalactic origin that only last a few milliseconds. Astronomers only know of about 60 FRBs since the discovery of the first one in 2007.

CHIME proving its worth

According to the news release from McGill the newly discovered repeating FRB “was one of a total of 13 bursts detected over a period of just three weeks during the summer of 2018, while CHIME was in its pre-commissioning phase and running at only a fraction of its full capacity. Additional bursts from the repeating FRB were detected in following weeks by the telescope, which is located in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.”

In the video below Perimeter Institute faculty member Kendrick Smith and computational scientist Dustin Lang explain how the CHIME Telescope collaboration zeroed-in on an unprecedented number of FRBs.

A second repeating fast radio burst

Ingrid Stairs, a member of the CHIME team and an astrophysicist at UBC said “until now, there was only one known repeating FRB. Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there. 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.”

The researchers also said that “the majority of the 13 FRBs detected showed signs of ‘scattering,’ a phenomenon that reveals information about the environment surrounding a source of radio waves. The amount of scattering observed by the CHIME team led them to conclude that the sources of FRBs are powerful astrophysical objects more likely to be in locations with special characteristics.”

Cherry Ng, an astronomer at the University of Toronto and another team member said “that could mean in some sort of dense clump like a supernova remnant. Or near the central black hole in a galaxy. But it has to be in some special place to give us all the scattering that we see.”

The results from the CHIME team were announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle and published in two papers in Nature magazine.

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 27 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.