Distant Galaxy Sends Out 15 High-Energy Radio Bursts

14 fast radio bursts

The source of the radio bursts has been identified as a distant galaxy approximately 3 million light years away from earth. Now scientists engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence say that lone repeating fast radio burst (FRB) is being heard twittering away.

The Berkeley Astronomers Telegram reports that the source of these latest bursts, called FRB 121102, is the first to produce repeating FRBs, and this most recent batch of 15 pulses is further reaffirming its repeating nature, strongly ruling out a catastrophic source, such as a supernova explosion.

The radio emissions were detected by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia on August 26 during a five-hour-long series of 30-minute scans that were conducted as part of the Breakthrough Listen campaign. First detected with the Parkes Telescope in Australia, FRBs have now been seen by several radio telescopes around the world.

Backed by Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Hawking, and the billionaire entrepreneur Yuri Milner, The Breakthrough Listen initiative was able to record these unusual signals thanks to the Green Bank Telescope, in West Virginia, the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia, and the Automated Planet Finder of the Lick Observatory, in Mt Hamilton, California. In the early hours of Saturday, Aug. 26, Gajjar observed that area of the sky using the Breakthrough Listen backend instrument at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

As astronomers around the globe try to understand the mechanism generating fast radio bursts, they have repeatedly turned their radio telescopes on FRB 121102. The team later analyzed the 400 terabytes of data collected and found that the 121102 repeated 15 times, one after another.

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The instrument obtained 400TB of data on the object over a five-hour-long observation. However, it's extremely certain that these radio signals started they journey long before multi-cellular life even existed on Earth. The distinctive shape that the dispersion imposes on the initial pulse is an indicator of the amount of material between us and the source, and hence an indicator of the distance to the host galaxy.

The observations also show for the first time that FRBs emit at higher frequencies (with the brightest emission occurring at around 7 GHz) than previously observed.

"As the source is going into another active state means that the origin models associated with some sort of cataclysmic events are less likely to be the case of FRB 121102", he said. Breakthrough Listen is the biggest initiative till date that aims to find evidence of extraterrestrial life forms.

"It's not surprising that we've found 15 more from this source; we've been detecting many of them over the past few years", Paul Scholz, an astronomer who studies FRBs with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, B.C., told CBC News.

The Breakthrough Initiatives are a suite of scientific and technological programs investigating life in the Universe.

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