Scientists with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Collaboration have assembled the largest collection of fast radio bursts (FRBs) in the telescope’s first FRB catalog.
- While catching sight of an FRB is considered a rare thing in the field of radio astronomy, prior to the CHIME project, radio astronomers had only caught sight of around 140 bursts in their scopes since the first FRB was spotted in 2007.
About CHIME Telescope
- The CHIME telescope is an interferometric radio telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia, Canada.
- The CHIME telescope has detected a whopping 535 new fast radio bursts in its first year of operation itself, between 2018 and 2019.
- The telescope receives radio signals each day from half of the sky as the Earth rotates.
- While most radio astronomy is done by swiveling a large dish to focus light from different parts of the sky, CHIME stares, motionless, at the sky, and focuses incoming signals using a correlator.
- This is a powerful digital signal processor that can work through huge amounts of data, at a rate of about seven terrabytes per second, equivalent to a few percent of the world’s Internet traffic.
- From the FRBs that CHIME was able to detect, the scientists calculated that bright fast radio bursts occur at a rate of about 800 per day across the entire sky — the most precise estimate of FRBs overall rate to date.
What are Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) ?
- FRBs are oddly bright flashes of light, registering in the radio band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which blaze for a few milliseconds before vanishing without a trace.
- These brief and mysterious beacons have been spotted in various and distant parts of the universe, as well as in our own galaxy.
- Their origins are unknown and their appearance is highly unpredictable.
- But the advent of the CHIME project has nearly quadrupled the number of fast radio bursts discovered to date.
- With more observations, astronomers hope soon to pin down the extreme origins of these curiously bright signals.
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