MYSTERY WIRE — Fast Radio Bursts — FRBs — are an unpredictable phenomenon of radio energy generated in a flash.
That’s what makes one new FRB discovery interesting — it’s predictable. While most FRBs only spark once, this one repeats on a 16-day cycle:
Every 16.35 days, the signal named FRB 180916.J0158+65 follows a similar pattern. For four days, it will spit out a burst or two every hour. Then it falls silent for 12 days. Then the whole thing repeats.Feb. 10 article from Science Alert
The article details the growing list of repeating FRBs that astromers know about — now up to 11, including FRB 180916.J0158+65.
FRBs were only discovered in the past 20 years. Examination of data collected by Australia’s Parkes radio telescope revealed a tremendous burst of energy in a very short time. The bursts last only microseconds, but they release as much energy as the sun radiates in a day.
One radio telescope, in particular, is good at picking up these flashes. The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope in British Columbia, Canada, is known “the world’s best FRB-finding machine.”
The FRB discovery is reminiscent of the discovery of pulsars, a phenomenon that created tremendous excitement among astronomers because of the possibility that they were signals emitted by intelligent extraterrestrial beings. Turns out pulsars are neutron stars — stars that collapsed following a supernova.
Our report in early January came before scientists had determined that FRB 180916.J0158+65 was among the bursts that repeat.