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There are two “flavors” in the mysterious flash of radio lights.




Every two minutes, a mysterious flash of radio waves explodes somewhere in the sky and returns to darkness within a few milliseconds. Ten years have passed since astronomers first noticed bursts of archived data since 2007, carefully stockpiled examples of fast radio bursts (FRBs), and then searched for patterns that could reveal their origin. I spent a lot of time. Now they have a whopping 500 new bursts to study.

On June 9, an international collaborative study released the first Fed catalog from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) in British Columbia, more than triple the number of known Feds in one day. The new dataset strongly supports the notion that two different types of Feds are scattered in the sky of electric waves, and astronomers foresee the future of using the Feds to illuminate the farthest parts of the universe.

“This represents a new stage in Fed science,” Kiyoshi Masui, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and head of the CHIME collaboration, said at a press conference.

Related: 12 of the strangest objects in the universe

Fed discovery machine

CHIME was not initially designed to be the world’s leading Fed hunter. Astronomers initially planned a machine that would use the dim hydrogen atom jitter to graph matter in the universe to unprecedented distances. But after the Canadian government funded a $ 9 million machine, researchers realized it was perfectly suited to solve the Fed’s new mystery.

According to new results from the CHIME collaboration, the sky always flashes in the Fed — about 880 times a day. But unless the astronomer happens to have a large radio dish trained at exactly the right random points in the sky at the right time, the burst will be invisible.

However, CHIME has a cosmic perspective. The wide receiver of the telescope (more halfpipes than plates) picks up radio waves from most of the overhead sky at once, and the Earth’s rotation points it in different directions. Added during the design process, the $ 4.5 million supercomputing cluster dedicated to Fed hunting digitally focuses the telescope on thousands of points at a time.

Previously, researchers tended to analyze the Fed on a case-by-case basis. At a press conference, Mohit Bhardwaj, CHIME collaboration member at McGill University in Montreal, said the catalog opened the door to studying a bunch of Feds at once and “transformed the entire field into big data science.” It was.

Randomity pattern

Most astrophysicists believe that the Fed originates from magnetars. Magnetars are one of the strangest things that can happen when a star dies. Magnetars are highly magnetized versions of stellar corpses known as neutron stars, making them part of the densest and most magnetic objects in the universe. Theorists reasoned that only a body packed with so much mass and magnetic strength in such a small package could be powerful and agile enough to beam out a short burst. And in 2020, CHIME captured the magnetar midburst in our galaxy. Still, anyone can guess how magnetars generate radio waves.

Related: 15 of the weirdest galaxies in our universe

“There are many theories, but nothing tells us which is right and which is wrong,” Masui said.

The CHIME catalog confirms most of the allegations over the years. Not all Feds are the same. Astronomers have identified a small number of Feds that recur from the same location in the sky, called “repeaters.” Of the newly revealed 535 bursts, 61 flashes came from 18 repetitive criminals.

Astronomers have also found that repeaters look essentially different from a one-time burst. The one-time Fed is short and tends to glow with a rainbow of radio waves, but repeated bursts tend to be long-lasting and appear as a single radio hue. This distinction suggests that magnetars may have at least two different ways of emitting radio waves.

Across the Universe

Regardless of the cause or method of the Fed, researchers are already thinking of ways to put the flash in the dark and make it work. Hundreds of bursts seem to come from all directions, rather than aligning with the Milky Way, for example. This shows that the space lighthouses that emit them are scattered throughout the universe, many of which come from hundreds of millions to billions of lights-a few years away.

CHIME also gets the Fed quality called variance. This is a measure of how the radio frequency of a burst spreads as it travels between galaxies. This separation is greater when Fed photons pass through a thin plasma that fills the space (as white light separates into a rainbow as it passes through a prism). In this variance, each Fed records the amount of problems encountered while driving, much like it keeps a history of the roads on which the car’s tires traveled.

As CHIME’s Fed catalog grows, astronomers hope to be able to use it to map the materials of the universe on the largest scale.

“We [FRBs] It will be the ultimate tool for studying the universe. “

Originally published in Live Science.

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