A New FRB in a Galaxy Nearby

Recently CHIME researchers found a location with a repeating fast radio burst (FRB).

A New FRB in a Galaxy Nearby
Fast Radio Burst

A New FRB in a Galaxy Nearby  


Astronomers have pinpointed the location of a repeating fast radio burst. The breakthrough is only the second time that scientists have determined the precise location of a recurrent source of these millisecond bursts of radio waves from space.

The members of Canada's CHIME are working jointly with the astronomers of several European countries. They worked together in quest of Fast Radio Burst collaboration. Recently they found a location with a repeating fast radio burst (FRB). This instance is not for the first time. The CHIME telescope in British Columbia detected FRB in 2018. The precisely identified location releases millisecond bursts of radio waves. This type of radio waves from space is considered the second breakthrough for the scientists. 

The tiresome findings of the scientists were published recently in the "Nature." According to the results, we know that scientists used eight telescopes scattered from a different location between the USA and China. The only reason behind that is to have a precise observation of the repeating radio source simultaneously. The radio wave is named FRB 180916.J0158+65. For finding out the location of the FRB, they used Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). By doing so, they predict the region approximately seven light-years across.  


FRB's very different location

The detection of the location was so precise that the research team decided to set-up a trained optical telescope onto the spot. The telescope gives more information about the environment that causes the burst emanation. Their findings resulted in adding further clarification on the mystery of FRB's origin.

Shriharsh Tendulkar is a former McGill University postdoctoral researcher. As a responsible member of the FRB's location's optical imaging and spectroscopic analyses, He is a principal author of this research. He said, "We used the eight-meter Gemini North telescope in Hawaii to take sensitive images that showed the faint spiral arms of a Milky-Way-like galaxy and showed that the FRB source was in a star-forming region in one of those arms." 

"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."


CHIME team's hypotheses match the previous ideas 

As the researchers found the initial detection earlier in 2018, they lined up the discovery with the relevant ideas on CHIME/FRB in this research. 

According to Mohit Bhardwaj, another CHIME team member, and co-author, "The FRB is among the closest yet seen, and we even speculated that it could be a more conventional object in the outskirts of our own galaxy." 

"However, the EVN observation proved that it's in a relatively nearby galaxy, making it still a puzzling FRB, but close enough to now study using many other telescopes."


Results of Zooming in

From the very beginning of the operation that started in the summer of 2018, CHIME has accelerated the rate of discovery by detecting dozens of fast radio bursts. It is a great achievement for these transient astrophysical phenomena. CHIME's broad field of view contains over 1,000 antennas. It can pick up fleeting bursts in a way that is more efficient than that of the conventional radio telescopes. The conventional ones can observe only a limited area at a time.

At the time of pinpointing FRB 180916, both the CHIME/FRB team and the EVN team worked together to determine the exact place to point the VLBI telescopes.

Another CHIME/FRB team member and a co-author is Daniele Michilli. He is a McGill University, a postdoctoral researcher. He says, "By recording and processing the raw signal from each of the antenna elements that make up CHIME, we were able to refine the source position to a level close enough for EVN to successfully observe and localize multiple bursts from this FRB source." 


FRB's proximity leads them to study further

The source of FRB 180916 is approximately half-a-billion light-years from Earth. It is closer than the other repeating burst to have been localized, and it is seven times more intimate than the previous one. Another interesting fact that it is also ten times closer if we consider the few non-repeating FRBs scientists have managed to pinpoint. It is an excellent study result for the astronomers to find out the possible explanations for FRBs. 

Victoria Kaspi works as an astrophysicist in the McGill University. She is also a notable collaborator in the CHIME/FRB collaboration. She says, "We have a new chance to perhaps detect emissions at other wavelengths -- x-ray or visible light, for instance. And if we did, that would be hugely constraining of the models."