A nearby galaxy was tracked down by a fast radio burst

June 28, 2020

The location of the fast radio burst was espied by the CHIME telescope in British Columbia in 2018. This observation was conducted by the European astronomers collaborating with the members of Canada's CHIME Fast Radio Burst (FRB).

The major eye opener was when reiterating millisecond radio bursts from space was received. For the second time, a precise location of the bursts of radio waves was revealed.


The method used was Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). The space VLBI is a network of space- and Earth-based radio antennas that amalgamate to fabricate the equivalent of a telescope with a diameter more than two and a half times the diameter of the Earth. This technique helped the researchers to achieve exceedingly detailed and high resolution images to determine the accurate region of the repetitive FRBs seven light years across. The European VLBI Network (EVN) used eight telescope spanning locations from UK to China to simultaneously observe the repeating radio waves known as FRB 180916.J0158+65.


The scientists made an astounding discovery about the whereabouts of FRBs. "We used the eight-metre Gemini North telescope in Hawaii to take sensitive image that showed the faint spiral arms of a Milky Way like galaxy and showed that the FRB source was a star forming regions in one of those arms," said co-author Shriharsh Tendulkar, a former McGill University postdoctoral researcher who co-led the spectroscopic analysis of the FBRs location. "This is a very different environment for a repeating FRB, compared to the dwarf galaxy in which the first repeating, FRB 121102 was discovered to reside."


It is a quantum leap in the history of detecting FRBs because it is about seven times closer than the only other repetitive radio waves to be pinpointed and more than 10 times closer than the few non-repeating FRBs scientists recognised. Next agenda would be detection for periodicity like the radio pulsar. This creates a whole new horizon for the astronomers and researchers and enables them to go for more in-depth studies.




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