Mysterious fast radio bursts continue
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are one of the most powerful and mysterious astronomical phenomena in the universe. These are bursts of radio waves that release so much energy to a thousandth of it seca minute, as much as the Sun releases in three days! Astronomers' opinions on what might cause FRBs differ, and the increased interest in this phenomenon has also increased the incidence of their detection.
The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) in Canada has identified over 1.000 sources to date. Using a new type of algorithm, found 25 more repeated FRBs in data collected between 2019 and 2021.
Some believe that FRBs are caused by neutron stars and black holes, but some FRBs cannot be categorized, as none of the theories or models proposed can fully explain their properties or their sources.
Each FRB is categorized based on its position in the sky and a variable known as the Dispersion Measure (DM). DM refers to time delays from high to low frequencies caused by the interaction of the flare with the materials it encounters as it travels through the universe.
Of the 1.000 FRBs detected to date, only 29 are repeatable. And of the 29 only one, FRB 180916, repeats consistently every 16.35 days. THE new algorithm then identified 25 new recurring sources, doubling their number.
When we carefully counted all FRBs and their sources, we found that only 2.6% of all FRBs repeat. Some of the new sources we detected had only a few flares, which makes the sources quite inactive. Almost as dormant as sources we've only seen once. Thus, we cannot rule out that sources for which we have seen only one flare will at some point produce another flare. It's possible that all FRBs are recurring, just that most are not that active. Any explanation for FRBs must be able to answer the question of why some sources are hyperactive while others are not.
Australia's Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO) will become operational in 2027 and, in collaboration with South Africa's MeerKAT telescope, will offer more answers about this mysterious phenomenon.