A Repeating Fast Radio Burst

by Kiyoshi Masui Cosmology & Gravity Research Brief 21.02.2017

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are enigmatic bursts of light seen in radio telescopes and which are thought to originate from outside our Milky Way galaxy. The implied energy of these distant events has led astrophysicists to believe that they might be the result of cataclysmic events that destroy their sources. However, the discovery that a fast radio burst repeats shows not only that this energy can be released without destroying its source, but that it can do so multiple times in the space of a few minutes.

Focus of Study

Fast radio burst FRB 121102, originally observed using the Arecibo Observatory in 2012, was followed up to search for signs of repeating activity from the same source. Such follow-up observations of the sky positions of fast radio bursts have never been successful in the past. Authors of the Nature study included CIFAR’s R. Howard Webster Foundation Fellow Vicki Kaspi, as well as Senior Fellow Ingrid Stairs and Associate Fellow Scott Ransom.

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