“This discovery with the Greet Bank Telescope is extremely important because for the first time it sheds light on the environment where FRBs can occur”, said Jay Lockman, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank.
The newly-identified FRB was discovered using data-mining software developed by Masui and Jonathan Sievers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. “This significantly narrows down the source’s environment and type of event that triggered the burst and means the source of the pulse likely resides within a star-forming nebula or the remnant of a supernova”. Another possibility is that it came from the dense inner regions of its host galaxy.
RFBs are very short-lived, lasting less than a second, but the radio waves are highly energetic. Scientists have puzzled over them since they were discovered 10 years ago. “We are also very confident that these are not coming from our galaxy, they are extra-galactic, but beyond that it’s still a highly unknown question”, says Masui. “That’s the compelling thing about these”. Though they appear to come from the distant universe, none of these enigmatic events have revealed more than the slimmest details about how and where it formed, until now. Other theories point to superconducting cosmic strings or evaporating black holes. It depicts a visualization of the otherwise invisible Fast Radio Burst (FRB) on its way to Earth.
The team – primarily, researchers with cosmology backgrounds – used this software to conduct an initial pass of the GBT data to flag any candidate signal.
What was more interesting, however, was the discovery that these waves had, on their way to Earth, encountered dense plasma and strong magnetic fields, according to the findings of astrophysicist Kiyoshi Masui, of the University of British Columbia in Canada, and his colleagues.
Another upcoming project, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), also benefits from this collaboration. However, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have changed that with their recent study that creates the most detailed record of FRBs yet through the analysis of 650 hours of archival data from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT).
The CHIME experiment is under construction in Penticton, British Columbia, under the lead of CIFAR Senior Fellow Mark Halpern and with several CIFAR researchers on the team.
The 100-meter Green Bank Telescope is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. CHIME’s overall goal is to make a three-dimensional map of cosmic structure, to investigate the expansion of the Universe.
While astronomers have known about Fast Radio Bursts for a while now, never before have they been able to be utilized as they are here in the year 2015. In this case, the measurement rules out models for FRBs involving stars in our galaxy and, for the first time, shows that the FRB must have originated in another galaxy.
Research team finds detailed record of mysterious fast radio burst