'Repeating' Radio Waves From Deep Space Baffle Scientists

While FRB 112102 repeated itself once, this new signal repeated itself six times, the study says.

Stairs added: "Knowing where they are will enable scientists to point their telescopes at them, creating an opportunity to study these mysterious signals in detail".

The findings were announced by Deborah Good, an astronomer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington on Wednesday. Before they were spotted over the summer, astronomers reportedly found between 50 and 60 examples of the radio bursts.

The telescope has been in use for only a year, detecting 13 of the radio bursts nearly immediately, including the repeater.

Having two sets of repeating bursts could also allow scientists to understand what distinguishes them from single bursts, helping them understand more about their source and watch for future blasts.

The radio waves were detected by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), the world's most powerful radio telescope, spread across an area as big as a football pitch.

But, until this most recent work, only one repeating FRB, known as FRB 121102, had been observed.

"An FRB emitted from a merger of two neutron stars, or a neutron star and a black hole, for example, can not repeat".

The CHIME researchers are working with an array of antennas in central New Mexico to pin down the galaxy to which the second repeater belongs.

The telescope only got up and running previous year, detecting 13 of the radio bursts nearly immediately, including the repeater.

"[We now know] the sources can produce low-frequency radio waves and those low-frequency waves can escape their environment, and are not too scattered to be detected by the time they reach the Earth", he said. "That tells us something about the environments and the sources". The cause of the signals remains unknown, yet theories include a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly, two neutron stars merging together, and even some form of an alien spaceship. Most of the FRBs previously detected had been found at frequencies near 1400 MHz, well above the Canadian telescope's range of 400 MHz to 800 MHz. Launched in 2017, the project is a collaboration of Canadian scientists from the University of British Columbia, McGill University, the University of Toronto, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and the National Research Council of Canada. FRBs are typically in the 1,400 MHz range, and the previous lowest radio frequency was at 700 MHz.

The only other detected repeating FRB signal was picked up in November 2012. Scientists don't know where they come from, or what celestial event could be so dramatic yet common enough to produce thousands of bursts every day.

A majority of the intercepted fast radio bursts shows signs of "scattering", a phenomenon that reveals information about the environment where the radio waves originated from, Phys.org reported. "We haven't solved the problem, but it's several more pieces in the puzzle".

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