A group of scientists from the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research participated in research which was found to discover new fast radio bursts. Moreover, among the group of 13 FRBs, the team found the second repeating FRB ever recorded, using a new radio telescope.
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are short-lasting periods of radio waves which are located far from our galaxy. Astrophysicists who studied them believe that they originate from a powerful phenomena located billions of light years away, but their true origin has yet to be detected.
To detect the new fast radio bursts, scientists used results from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), a powerful, revolutionary radio telescope which was completed in late 2017, and was developed in collaboration with scientists Kiyoshi Masui, an assistant professor of physics at MIT and Juan Mena Parra, a Kavli postdoc.
In fall 2018, a SETI project captured a few more new fast radio bursts, but CHIME uses a software which can be used to show the telescope where to look. The findings were described in two papers published in the journal Nature.
“The telescope has no moving parts. Instead it uses digital signal processing to ‘point’ the telescope and reconstruct where the radio waves are coming from. This is done using clever algorithms and a couple of giant computer clusters that sit beside the telescope and crunch away at the data in real time,” Masui said in a statement.
It’s expected that this type of software will become more common, as the power of quantum computers, and computing power in particular is becoming more effective.
The researchers also made a video of where in the universe the new fast radio bursts appeared.
It’s worth mentioning that these flash-like signals don’t cause an alarm for aliens or anything of that sort, but even if it were, given the billions of light years of distance, that advanced civilization is likely gone for good by now. Still, the true origin of the signals has yet to be determined. Scientists, however, believe that it’s a large and powerful astrophysical object, such as a supermassive black hole, supernova or a quasar, which could be located in an area with “special characteristics.”
The fast radio bursts are extremely rare, but what is even more of a rare find are repeating FRBs. Previously, the only repeating FRB was spotted via the massive Arecibo array in Puerto Rico.
Scientists believe that when only one FRB occurs, it indicates a powerful astrophysical event, which can occur only once, like a phenomenon. However, when two of them happen, it indicates that these events may not be as rare as previously thought. Nevertheless, further study will reveal more details on these mysterious bursts.