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Revolutionary radio telescope detects bevy of fast radio bursts (mit.edu)
77 points by breckuh 44 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments



I visited that observatory few years ago.

Was in Okanagan for cherries and wine and just noticed a bunch of satellite dishes on Google Maps. Drove to check em out - lo and behold it's an observatory, with public tours, with one starting in 10 minutes. Had no choice but to go in. Interesting place. Quite a few people walking around with coffee mugs in their hand and looking as spaced out as your average developer deciphering a fresh kernel whoops from last night. Needless to say the atmosphere was spot on :)

If you are in a vicinity, it's worth a visit.


Noted! I love BC, lived in Alberta a while— the Okanagan has been on the list for some time. Had no idea there were observatories there. I missed out on visiting the ones in Kona while I was there, so it's nice to know there are some accessible ones closer to home (though no cheaper of a flight from Toronto...)


> Scientists believe FRBs emanate from powerful astrophysical phenomena billions of light years away, but they have yet to determine their origin.

Are there any leading theories?


For pulses or bursts of emission, we like compact objects, just from light-travel-time arguments. I would say that the leading models involve very young, highly magnetic neutron stars ("magnetars"), either embedded in their birth supernova remnants / wind nebulae, or in the environments of massive black holes (as in the center of our Galaxy).

There are good reasons for these specific models to be favored. But honestly, we don't know for sure yet. Could it be cosmic strings? Evaporating microscopic black holes? Blobs of gas being flash-annihilated by drifting into the beams of active galactic nuclei? Theorists have models that seem to be OK on paper, and we're working hard to kill their models with new observations.

(One thing I'll say - and I say this as a firm optimist about the prospect for aliens - this is NOT aliens.)


There are plenty of theories, collected on the FRB theory wiki (https://frbtheorycat.org/index.php/Main_Page).

On that wiki you can sort them alphabetically, which one professional in the field has termed "the most sensible way of [ranking them]", but other than that there's no clear consensus.

It's not really surprising: until the Chime results there's only been a single FRB that has recurred, so mostly the theorists have had a small collection of strange noises with no context that they should try to explain. Given the breezy restrictions imposed by "no context", they've taken some liberties.


r/space at least has some comments before going completely off the rails https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/ae7c1b/13_more_fast_...


I just saw that well written comment and was thinking it's a crazy thing - that an astronomer at a large gathering of astronomers, surrounded by so many interesting people, discussing so many interesting things, takes a timeout to go and post an elaborate comment on reddit.

What is that crazy need we have to put in work, for no great gain, to keep utterly random people around the world updated in real time of whatever is going on?

These days, I seem to stop myself reading the news article , just head over to the right forum, and look for such comments. It's like the news industry has become more or less irrelevant, other than in surfacing a list of headlines, which then seed my "find best comment" search algorithm.


Not such a crazy thing at all! From an astronomer's perspective, it's a rare opportunity to connect to people not working in the field about his/her field of study. Trying to break down all the jargon and explain the general state of the field is a mental exercise akin to cleaning your desk - it's both satisfying and puts things in place.

We don't get a lot of opportunities to talk about this - you can't annoy your friends with work talk all the time, so going for "utterly random people" is your only chance unless you're in science communication.


Funny that your meta comment is not an example of 'such comments' and is 'more or less irrelevant'


Going completely off the rails is the norm for reddit and I would never use it as a reference for anything.


You can however find subject matter experts that can point you in the right direction. Maybe.

Don't trust, and verify.


Is it possible that the Wow-signal was an FRB?


Probably not.

The Wow signal lasted for at least 72 seconds, FRB's last milliseconds.


No sure why you're being downvoted for asking this. I did astrophysics for years and I still didn't know the answer.


Is it basically a phased array antenna? (for relatively low frequencies)


It's a full interferometer, although for the pulsar and FRB modes, they are tiling the field of view with many, many phased array beams. (Yes, the computation requirements are horrendous.)


I just watched a video about it yesterday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaqUl3I3y_Q


Aliens.




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