A Canadian-led team of astronomers has observed odd repeating radio waves coming from deep space for just the second time ever.
Ever since FRBs were first detected, scientists have been piecing together the observed characteristics of signals to come up with models that might explain the sources of the mysterious bursts. They could be the result of magnetars, or rapidly spinning neutron stars that have been strongly magnetized.
"With fast radio bursts, it's always felt like the more answers we get, the more questions we have", said Sarah Burke-Spolaor, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University who was not involved in the new research.
Professor Avi Loeb, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the United States, has previously said that FRBs could potentally be evidence of advanced alien technology.
"Seeing these bursts with CHIME will give us a good idea about what FRBs are like and where they come from, by showing us more about how their brightness changes at different frequencies and what's happening to the signal on its way to Earth", she added.
"Fast radio bursts are exceedingly bright given their short duration and origin at great distances, and we haven't identified a possible natural source with any confidence", said Loeb in a statement after the publication of a previous paper in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Only 60 FRB sources have been detected, including the 13 announced today.
The telescope only got up and running previous year, detecting 13 of the radio bursts nearly immediately, including the repeater.
Artist's impression of the active galactic nucleus shows the supermassive black hole at the center of the accretion disk sending a narrow high-energy jet of matter into space, perpendicular to the disc in this image by Science Communication Lab in Kiel Germany, released on July 12, 2018.
But perhaps the most significant discovery so far is FRB 180814.J0422+73.
Now a Canadian research team has found a repeating signal, only the second of its kind to be discovered.
Scientists said that they have observed blasts of radio signals coming from deep in space.
Of the 13 signals that were picked up, at least seven were recorded at 400 MHz - the lowest frequency of any such radio burst discovered till date.
The low frequency of this new detection could mean that the source of the bursts differ. But only one burst has ever been traced back to its source: a repeating burst called FRB 121102, which flickers periodically from a dim dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years away.
"We have discovered a second repeater and its properties are very similar to the first repeater. This allows us to study how structures in the Universe formed and how they are distributed".
That high rate of discovery suggests that FBRs, let alone repeating FBRs, may not be as unique as we think, said Perimeter Institute faculty member Kendrick Smith.