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An Update on the Mysterious Flashes of FRB 180916

8 Jul 2020, 16:00 UTC
An Update on the Mysterious Flashes of FRB 180916
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Earlier this year, we gained new insight into the origins of fast radio bursts (FRBs) when FRB 180916 became the first of these strange sources observed to exhibit repeated bursts in a periodic pattern.
Now, we’re taking a look at four recent studies detailing some of the latest observations and theories of FRB 180916 — and what this tells us about the population of FRBs as a whole.
What Do We Already Know About FRB 180916?
FRBs are incredibly energetic bursts of radio waves that last just a few milliseconds and originate from extragalactic sources. We’ve detected more than 100 of them, and this number is growing rapidly. Yet despite these observations, we still don’t know what causes FRBs — though we have dozens of theories.
The location of FRB 180916 is in a galaxy’s spiral arm, marked with a green circle in this image from the Gemini-North telescope. [NSF’s Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/Gemini Observatory/AURA]The majority of the FRBs we’ve detected are one-off events, but a growing number have been observed to flash repeatedly — usually in a wildly unpredictable fashion. Recently, however, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) radio telescope announced the first detection of a periodic pattern ...

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