Astronomers detect 25 radio bursts that mysteriously repeat themselves throughout the universe

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are one of the most powerful and enigmatic astronomical phenomena known.

Like gravitational waves (GW) and gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), fast radio bursts (FRBs) are one of the most powerful and mysterious astronomical phenomena today. These transient repeats consist of outbursts that emit more energy in one millisecond than the Sun does in three days. Most bursts last just milliseconds, but there have been rare cases of repeated FRBs. Although astronomers are still not sure of their causes and opinions vary, specialized observatories and international collaborations have drastically increased the number of events available for study.

One of the main observatories is the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), a state-of-the-art radio telescope located at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in British Columbia (Canada), with which more than 1,000 sources have been detected. of FRB to date.

As Ziggy Pleunis, a postdoctoral researcher at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics and lead author of the new study, explained to Universe Today, each FRB is described by its position in the sky and a quantity known as its Dispersion Measure (DM). This measurement refers to the delay from high to low frequencies caused by the burst’s interactions with matter as it travels through space. In a paper published in August 2021, the CHIME/FRB Collaboration presented the first large-sample FRB catalog containing 536 events detected by CHIME between 2018 and 2019, including 62 outbursts from 18 previously reported repetitive sources.

For this latest study, available on arXiv, Pleunis and colleagues relied on a new clustering algorithm that looks for multiple colocalized events in the sky with similar MDs. “We can measure the position in the sky and the dispersion of the fast radio burst with an accuracy that depends on the design of the telescope used,” explains Pleunis.
“The clustering algorithm takes into account all fast radio bursts that have been detected by the CHIME telescope and looks for clusters of FRBs that have consistent sky positions and scatter measurements within the measurement uncertainties. We then perform various checks to make sure that the bursts in a group are actually coming from the same source.”