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Thread: FRBs: Brightest-Ever Mystery Radio Burst Signal Spotted In Space

  1. #1

    FRBs: Brightest-Ever Mystery Radio Burst Signal Spotted In Space

    Scientists have spotted three new fast radio bursts (FRBs) in less than two weeks—and one is the brightest ever observed.FRBs are mysterious signals that appear to come from deep space. Twinkling for just milliseconds, their sources are, as yet, unknown.

    Astronomers use the world’s largest radio telescopes to detect the weak, elusive flashes. But even these capture relatively small slivers of sky, so astronomers have to be lucky to catch the bursts. So far, just 33 have been spotted since the first in 2001.

    The three latest bursts were spied on March 1, March 9 and March 11 using the Parkes Observatory in Australia, according to the FRB Catalogue. They were recorded in the Astronomer’s Telegram.

    Alien life or astrophysics?

    The Breakthrough Listen project spotted the March 1 FRB while hunting for intelligent alien life. “BL is foremostly a search for technologically-capable life beyond Earth; however, a real-time search for FRBs runs in tandem,” the team wrote in the Telegram.

    Danny Price of the Berkeley SETI Research Center and one of the astronomers behind the March 1 spot wrote in a blog post that, while the team would love aliens to be behind the signals, they need to “rule out all plausible astrophysical theories first.”
    Extremely bright FRB

    Last Friday (March 9), saw the brightest FRB ever observed. It had the "highest signal-to-noise ratio" ever recorded, researcher Stefan Oslowski of the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia wrote in a tweet. Oslowski and colleagues also recorded the March 11 FRB, which occurred within 50 hours of March 9's.

    Unknown source

    Although their sources remain unknown, scientists are learning more about FRBs all the time. One of the signals has been found to repeat, which has let scientists take a deeper look at the evasive bursts.

    Earlier this year, researchers reported the flashing signal might be caused by a neutron star sitting in an extreme environment like a powerful nebula or the remains of a supernova.

    "Right now there are dozens of theories trying to explain the fast radio burst phenomenon. It’s also possible that multiple...theories are correct and that fast radio bursts can originate from a number of different circumstances," astronomer Jason Hessels from the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, told Newsweek. Hessels was not involved in the three Astronomy Telegram FRB reports.

    Some astronomers predict that all FRBs repeat, but most of their flashes are just too dim to see. Maura McLaughlin, an astronomer from West Virginia University in Morgantown, thinks the March 9 signal could be a promising target for further bursts, New Scientist reports. She said: “If we believe that all FRBs repeat and it’s just a matter of waiting long enough for one to be bright enough, we should be able to detect more pulses from this one because it’s so bright.”

    McLaughlin thinks far more FRB discoveries are on the cards. “Everyone’s sort of jumping on this bandwagon of looking for FRBs in the background all the time no matter what else is going on,” she said. “This should lead to a huge uptick in detections in the next year or so.”

    Explaining the appeal of FRBs, Hessels said: "It doesn’t happen very often that astronomers discover a new type of phenomenon like this, and it’s really fun to try and solve this mystery."

    If researchers are lucky, he added, FRBs might serve as useful tools to shed light on other space mysteries as well.

  2. #2
    Someone is cooking pop-tarts; again.

    Nice find; by you and them.

  3. #3
    That's what you get for putting metal in the microwave.................

    Rogue Microwave Ovens Are the Culprits Behind Mysterious Radio Signals

    Let’s be clear about one thing: Reheating coffee in the microwave is always a poor life choice. But it becomes especially unwise if you’re using a microwave oven near a radio telescope and you’re so eager for that icky, burnt and wholly unsatisfying taste that you prematurely pop the coffee out before the oven’s timer goes off.


    You may have just unleashed a small but mighty radio signal that could be detected by a nearby, sensitive radio telescope. If you happen to be reheating your coffee at the Parkes Observatory in Australia, you could be contributing to the growing collection of mysterious radio signals known as perytons. Well, the collection of formerly mysterious radio signals: A study posted to the arXiv on April 9 identified microwave ovens at the Parkes site as the rather mundane source of perytons.

    “It was quite surprising that it ended up being microwaves,” says study author Emily Petroff of Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology.
    For years, astronomers had been puzzled by these brief but intense bursts of radio waves that in some ways appeared to be coming from deep space. There have been dozens of reported perytons, some dating back to the 1990s, and theories about the signals’ origin included ball lightning, aircraft, and components of the telescopes themselves.

    But almost since the beginning, one thing has been clear about perytons: Despite mimicking a deep space signal, they’re produced by something that’s somewhere near Earth. Astronomers knew that perytons were locally grown because the signals simultaneously showed up in multiple viewing fields rather than arriving from a single point, as distant signals do. Just how close to Earth was a mystery until now.

    Petroff and her colleagues discovered the source of perytons after they installed a real-time radio interference monitor at the Parkes telescope. In January, the telescope detected three of the signals – and the interference monitor picked up three simultaneous interference signatures. The team recognized the interloping frequencies as possibly belonging to a microwave oven.

    When Petroff and her colleagues tested their hypothesis, they found they could create perytons on demand simply by opening the oven door before the timer had dinged.

    Why is the impatience over a warming Hot Pocket important? If you open the microwave door before the timer goes off, the thing in the oven that produces microwaves – it’s called a magnetron – hasn’t had a chance to completely shut off. And so, the microwave oven is briefly transmitting radio waves into the open.

    “Radio emission escaping from microwave ovens during the magnetron shut-down phase neatly explain all of the observed properties of the peryton signals,” the study authors write. They then identified the offending microwaves as the ones in the staff kitchen and visitors center at the observatory.
    Sensitive radio telescopes, like the ones at Parkes, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, can easily detect those rogue microwaves if the telescopes are pointed in the right direction.

    “Microwave ovens are a problem for us – and none exist on site. They are prohibited,” says Arecibo director Robert Kerr. Other facilities that don’t ban microwave ovens altogether shield them in enclosures called Faraday cages, which are supposed to prevent detectable radiation from leaking out. In general, scientists try very hard to eliminate any potential source of Earth-based interference from mucking up radio astronomy data – and that means things like cell phones are a no-no near telescopes.

    “Alas, radio telescope sites may appear to be occupied by Luddites,” Kerr says. “No microwaves, no cell phones, no wireless routers, no bluetooth printers or headphones, and – more due to funding – often no food.

    So, one of astrophysics’ more exotic mysteries has a surprisingly down-to-Earth solution. But what does this mean about fast radio bursts, perytons’ enigmatic cousins that truly appear to be coming from very, very far away and have no known origin? (A favorite speculation among readers is “aliens.”) Might they also be coming from Earth?

    It seems unlikely, Petroff and her colleagues argue. The intricacies of the fast radio burst signals still suggest an extragalactic origin. And there are revealing differences in the time distributions of the two types of signals. As one might expect from a cosmological signal, fast radio bursts tend to show up rather randomly around the clock. But, perhaps unsurprisingly in retrospect, the peryton data show those signals “clustering near the lunchtime hour.”

    Aha! A clue, Sherlock.

  4. #4
    Spinal Tab, in a parallel Universe..

  5. #5
    Originally Posted by Vistitor010100 View Post (Source)
    Spinal Tab, in a parallel Universe..
    Does this microwave go all the way up to 11?

  6. #6
    FD better nerf FRB's

  7. #7
    Originally Posted by o'moylan View Post (Source)
    FD better nerf FRB's
    No, microwaving pop tarts will still occur in Solo, Open and Private Groups.

    FD better nerf microwave ovens.