Astronomers just discovered 25 more mysterious repeating fast radio bursts from space

A group of Canadian astronomers has announced the detection of numerous signals from distant space, including 50 from repeating sources. These signals, known as fast radio bursts (FRBs), are a major enigma in the field of astronomy. 

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment has identified 25 additional repeating sources of FRBs originating from the depths of the universe, utilizing a highly effective radio telescope situated in British Columbia. Although most FRBs are only observed once, a limited number of them have been documented to occur repeatedly.

Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope, Credit: CHIME Collaboration

Astronomers are currently attempting to determine whether the origins of repeating and non-repeating FRBs are identical. The CHIME/FRB collaboration has verified that these FRBs originate from beyond the confines of the Milky Way galaxy.

The identification of these radio signals from distant space has prompted speculation about the possibility of extraterrestrial communication, but additional research and inquiry are required to validate this hypothesis.

‘Not random signals’
Dr. Ziggy Pleunis, the author of a recently published study, has revealed that some of the enigmatic fast radio bursts (FRBs) are not random signals.

Dr. Pleunis has stated that they are now capable of precisely determining the probability of two or more bursts emanating from comparable locations being a coincidence. The advent of the CHIME telescope has enabled leading scientists to intercept a higher volume of FRBs, ranging from just a few to tens of thousands in recent years.

In addition, scientists suggest that this telescope, which can conduct daily scans of the northern sky, holds an advantage over other telescopes in the detection of FRBs. The recurrent sources of FRBs provide a distinct benefit to astronomers, as they can be observed and analyzed in greater depth.

There are two primary reasons why repeating sources of fast radio bursts (FRBs) are exceptionally valuable to astronomers. Firstly, the capacity for a source to repeat enables more comprehensive examination utilizing other telescopes. Secondly, the existence of multiple bursts furnishes additional insights into the distinct varieties of emissions that a source can generate.

Furthermore, according to Dr. Pleunis, FRBs are most likely generated by the remnants of supernovae, or exploding stars. By examining repeating sources in greater depth, astronomers can gain a better understanding of the settings in which these explosions arise and learn more about the final stages of a star's life.

The utilization of the potent CHIME telescope and its associated expertise has already resulted in a significant breakthrough. Adaeze Ibik, a researcher, has expressed enthusiasm for the multiple flashes detected from the same locations, as it facilitates a detailed investigation into their characteristics. In addition, Ibik has reported that the team has been able to focus on some of these recurring sources and has already identified two probable associated galaxies.


Bridget C. Andersen et al, CHIME/FRB Discovery of 25 Repeating Fast Radio Burst Sources, The Astrophysical Journal (2023). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/acc6c1

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