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A Fast Radio Burster is seen to repeat every 16 days... deepening the mystery

17 Feb 2020, 14:00 UTC
A Fast Radio Burster is seen to repeat every 16 days... deepening the mystery
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There is a stage, in the course of opening up a new field of astronomical discoveries, when you're just trying to collect information as much as you can. Every new object you detect in this newly found category is a treasure, perhaps THE ONE that will finally crack open the mystery of what's going on.

And sometimes — usually pretty often at the start — you find one that makes things even weirder. That's where we are with Fast Radio Bursts, or FRBs.

These are as named: Very quick bursts of radio energy, lasting for mere milliseconds, coming from all over the sky The first was discovered in 2007 (in archived data from 2001), and a few dozen are now known. The problem is that for a long time they were "one and done": Just a flash for that fraction of a second, then nothing. Frustrating.

Then some were found to repeat. That was a huge breakthrough, since it meant they could be localized. It turns out they are very far away, in other galaxies, some billions of light years distant. That's important! That means these are fantastically energetic events, capable of being seen across the observable Universe.

The 8.2-meter ...

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