Scientists discover repeating fast radio bursts coming from the far edge of the galaxy, overthrowing notions that FRBs are non-repeating in nature.
SIGNALS IN THE NIGHT
While sifting through various observation results made using the world’s largest radio telescope, McGill University PhD student Paul Scholz discovered something very rare—repeating fast radio bursts.
Admittedly, it’s not as dramatic nor as action-packed as when Jodie Foster’s character in the 90s sci-fi movie Contact discovered radio transmissions from outer space, but Scholz’s discovery of ten additional bursts from the direction of FRB 121102 is certainly an exciting discovery in its own right.
Until Scholz’s new findings, repeating fast radio bursts (FRB) were—no pun intended—unheard of. All incidents of FRBs are recorded to be non-repeating in nature. This has led scientists to speculate that FRBs are caused by one-off, cataclysmic events such as a star exploding in a supernova or a neutron star collapsing into a black hole.
But, the data published in the March issue of Nature, showing the additional bursts having “dispersion measures and sky positions consistent with the original burst” of FRB 121102 from 2012, invalidates all existing theories on the nature of FRBs.
“I knew immediately that the discovery would be extremely important in the study of FRBs,” says Scholz.
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