Radio waves detected by Penticton observatory telescope make international science headlines - InfoNews

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Radio waves detected by Penticton observatory telescope make international science headlines

Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory's latest project, the CHIME radio telescope, is already making headlines in the scientific world.
January 11, 2019 - 10:51 AM

PENTICTON - The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory’s newest telescope is already making news in the world of science with the detection of radio waves coming from powerful astrophysical phenomena billions of light years away.

McGill University issued a press release regarding the discovery earlier this week after the telescope, located southwest of Penticton, recorded a second repeating fast burst of radio waves coming from outside the Milky Way galaxy.

The telescope detected a total of 13 bursts during its pre-commissioning stage over a three week period in the summer of 2018, with additional bursts detected in the weeks following.

Of more than 60 fast radio bursts observed to date, repeating bursts from a single source had only been found once before, by a radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 2015.

Astrophysicist Ingrid Stairs says with knowledge of more known repeating fast radio bursts comes an opportunity to better understand the “cosmic puzzles,” including where they come from and what causes them.

Prior to CHIME’s initiation, scientists wondered if the range of radio frequencies the telescope had been designed for would be too low to pick up fast radio bursts because previously detected bursts had been found at higher frequencies.

But CHIME’s results have since settled these doubts. The recent discovery was published on Jan. 9 in two papers in Nature and presented the same day to the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.

“Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it’s interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce. There are some models where intrinsically the source can’t produce anything below a certain frequency,” McGill University team member Arun Naidu says in a media release.

“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. That tells us something about the environments and the sources. We haven’t solved the problem, but it’s several more pieces in the puzzle,” National Research Council of Canada CHIME team member Tom Landecker says a release.


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