Eleven years after the first Fast Radio Burst (FRB) was discovered, astronomers working in the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment or CHIME, have recorded the second occurring from outside our galaxy.
This event has paved the way for several questions that will lead to profound scientific discoveries.
The mysterious radio energy flashes, whose source is yet to be discovered, have left astronomers baffled. Where are they coming from? What are they? And do they mean something that humans don’t know yet? If so, what is this great mystery?
However, there is help at hand because some of India’s most brilliant scientists are working on these perplexing questions!
Explaining what FRBs are, Dr Shriharsh Tendulkar and Dr Shami Chatterjee, co-authors of a scientific article say, “Fast radio bursts are millisecond-duration, extragalactic radio flashes of unknown physical origin. The only known repeating fast radio burst source —FRB 121102—has been localised to a star-forming region in a dwarf galaxy… The origin of the bursts, the nature of the persistent source and the properties of the local environment are still unclear.”
Interestingly, the energy that FRBs emit in one millisecond is the same as what the sun emits in one entire day!
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While Dr Tendulkar is a researcher at McGill University, Canada, Dr Chatterjee works at Cornell University in New York.
Dr Chatterjee is a passionate astronomer, having worked in New York, Australia and now Canada. He says that his areas of interests, apart from FRBs, are neutron stars and Nanohertz Gravitational Waves among others.
Dr Tendulkar is involved in building the CHIME radio telescope and is passionate about the origins and populations of FRBs and the relation between magentar and pulsar populations. He holds a PhD in astrophysics, and his thesis focuses on the construction of the first autonomous Adaptive Optics system.
Together, they are trying to solve the questions surrounding FRBs.
Their primary challenge is that the flashes last for only milliseconds and then disappear, which makes it all the more difficult to identify their source.
It was in 2007 that the first FRB was detected, entirely by accident, and many scientists believed that this was because of some “mix-up” in the telescope. Now, however, the CHIME radio telescope has helped the scientists record 13 more bursts, busting the myth that the first catch was a technical fault.
The team presented these findings at the American Astronomical Society earlier this week and also clarified the fact that they were produced as a result of a “pre-commissioning phase” that lasted for two weeks.
This essentially means that this was a trial and that the telescope was running at only a fraction of its full capacity, giving more hope about what it will discover when it runs at full capacity.
Arun Naidu, another scientist working on this potentially ground-breaking research told the Inquisitr, “Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it’s interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce. There are some models where intrinsically the source can’t produce anything below a certain frequency.”
While most believe that astrophysical phenomena like black holes or neutron stars produce the FRBs, some also suggest that they are produced by aliens, which is of course a rather outlandish theory. We are certain that the extensive research by scientists like Chatterjee, Tendulkar, Naidu and their teams, will give us the correct answer.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)