Alien contact? Mysteriously repeating radio signals captured by Canadian telescope

Sunday, 13 Jan, 2019

"Seeing these bursts with CHIME will give us a good idea about what FRBs are like and where they come from, by showing us more about how their brightness changes at different frequencies and what's happening to the signal on its way to Earth", she added.

Containing the power of approximately 500m suns, the burst is highly significant because it is only the second repeating one ever discovered, the first being discovered by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 2012.

One hypothesis is that powerful astrophysical phenomena are causing them.

"That is pretty important, actually", Ingrid Stairs, a UBC astrophysicist involved with the project, says.

These Fast Radio Bursts were detected during a period of just three weeks in the summer of 2018 using the CHIME radio telescope. Repeating FRBs are even more rare, with the first, labeled FRB 112102, detected in 2007 following a review of telescope data that had been collected in 2001. The scientists also discovered repeat bursts from one of the 13 sources, a discovery only made once before.

Scientists have discovered mysterious signals coming from a galaxy 1.5 billion light years away.

They found that one of the FRBs was repeating.

The CHIME team believes this scattering is indicative of powerful astrophysical objects at the source of the bursts.

Intensity Mapping Experiment radio telescope known as CHIME
CHIME Collaboration The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment radio telescope known as CHIME

"Most of the, sort of, reasonable theories involve a neutron star, or possibly a black hole", she explains. "But it has to be in some special place tog I've us all the scattering that we see".

"Now we know that FRBs are detectable at 400 MHz, and should be detectable at even lower frequencies", Tendulkar said.

Since getting past the pre-commissioning phase, CHIME has detected emissions in multiple events - seen down to 400 MHz, the lowest radio frequency to which it is sensitive.

The precise cause of the blasts of radio waves is unknown.

That high rate of discovery suggests that FBRs, let alone repeating FBRs, may not be as unique as we think, said Perimeter Institute faculty member Kendrick Smith. "It helps us build a more complete picture of the Universe".

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment radio telescope, known as CHIME, is pictured in an undated handout photo. The telescope functions round the clock and scans the entire northern sky to catch transient FRBs. Dozens of mysterious radio signals have been noted by scientists with telescopes being used all over the world to track its source.

CHIME is a collaboration of more than 50 scientists led by the University of British Columbia, McGill University, University of Toronto, and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

Fast radio bursts have long eluded astronomers, but now a second repetitive source has been found. CHIME is an official Square Kilometre Array (SKA) pathfinder facility.