As they reported in two papers in Nature yesterday, researchers detected 13 radio bursts, six of which came from the same location. FRBs last for just a few milliseconds, and their unpredictable displays make observations notoriously hard.
The astrophysical mysteries are thought to originate from far outside our Milky Way, but their source remains unclear.
What do we know about the fast radio burst (FRB)?
Take a deep breath, because here come some breathtaking numbers from the CHIME arXiv paper: "The computational challenge of the CHIME/FRB search is huge: The input data rate is 1.5PB/day, and the dedispersion transform computes 10 SNR values per second (total for all beams)".
All in all researchers spotted 13 bursts in a three week period.
The CHIME (Canadian Hyrodgen Intensity-Mapping Experiment) observatory, located in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, consists of four 100-metre-long, semi-cylindrical antennas, which scan the entire northern sky each day.
While most previous FRBs had been recorded at frequencies around 1400MHz, these new bursts were collected at between 800MHz and 400MHz-the lowest frequency CHIME can detect.
"There are some models where intrinsically the source can't produce anything below a certain frequency".
The majority of FRBs identified prior to CHIME's observations featured high frequencies, signals close to 1400 MHz.
The low frequency of this new detection could mean that the source of the bursts differ.
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Repeated bursts from one "fast radio burst" FRB were observed in the weeks following. "It is still an early field though, so it is hard to put concrete constraints on the theories, but our work is a new step in that direction".
Radio signals have been detected from deep in outer space.
The new repeating FRB has another unusual characteristic as well.
The two sets of repeating bursts would help scientists understand what distinguishes repeating signals from single bursts, their source, and also watch out for future radio bursts.
They're probably generated by extremely energetic events, since most FRBs are detected from a great distance. It was beginning to look like the lone example, FRB 121102, might be a freak object, but this suggests that it may simply be rare.
Top Image: The CHIME telescope looking up at the night sky. Given that 13 FRBs were detected in such a short amount of time using pre-commissioning data, "just imagine what's waiting for us in the full-sensitivity data", she said. But for only the second time, they have now found one that repeats itself, making it more likely that we might find out where they come from.
Experts have debated whether black holes or super-dense neutron stars are responsible, but others have suggested more outlandish theories.
However, Tendulkar said it was extremely unlikely the waves were caused by intelligent life.
Astronomers have been finding FRB's since 2002, though dozens of discoveries have shed little light on what these signals are or where they originate. "But it has to be in some special place tog I've us all the scattering that we see".
"We are very far from that yet", Ng said.