The radio telescope array, the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder, was turned on just four days ago and already it has made huge leaps forward as it had found its first fast radio burst.
The radio signals are a space mystery that is unsolved, they last only milliseconds and very rarely do they repeat, which makes them extremely difficult to locate or predict. That is until the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder, or ASKAP for short began to scan the skies. Up to now on, 23 have been located and many of them had been previously identified in data that had been recorded.
THREE FRBS LOCATED USING JUST 8 OF 36 DISHES
The ASKAP has found not just one fast radio burst, it has located three and only eight out of the thirty-six dishes had been used. Keith Bannister from the CSIRO, leader of the research, said that with the ASKAP it is possible to find an FRB every couple of days. He went on to say that the number would increase fast now that they have got the technology working.
Bannister went on to say that the key to the discovery was the new radio telescope technology used, which has the name of phased array feed. He said that with many of the telescopes they only look at a single area of sky at any one time. The phased array feed, however, has cameras that are made up of 188 receivers and this means that the researchers are able to look at a region of sky that is 240 square degrees by pointing the dishes in different directions. The researchers hail from the Curtin University along with the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.
SQUARE KILOMETER ARRAY COMING IN 2020 MADE OF THOUSANDS OF DISHES
Thanks to the wide field of view the ASKAP and the Square Kilometer Array, which is said to be revealed in 2020 and which is made up of thousands of dishes, it has an edge on the detection of FRBs.
HUGE APPLICATIONS FOR NEW TELESCOPE
The new telescope has huge applications from astronomers from all over the globe. The first of which are the statistics of the population of the FRB, the ratio of the signals that are bright to the ones that are faint. It will be able to help to show if the FRBs are close by or whether they have been affected by the universe`s age.
Another factor is that the team is going to add in an extra mode to try to help to pinpoint with far more accuracy just where the FRBs come from, which may help to explain why they occur.
NO THEORIES BEHIND WHAT HAS BEEN OBSERVED
Bannister said that at the moment there is no theory that has been able to explain what they have observed. He went to say that in order to make a fast radio burst and make it visible, it has to be extremely bright as it has come from a long way away. With arriving from so far away the biggest question is how something can make something as bright so that it can be seen from such a distance.
Bannister does have some ideas; he said that there are some things that do generate emissions that are similar, pulsars and magnetars, for example. However, these cannot be detected in other galaxies. But they have detected FBRs and he said that they thought they did come from other galaxies. This leads the researchers to think that it was not due to magnetars or pulsars that are normally seen and if it is not these then what could it be.
The first FRB that was found had the name of FRB170107 and it has been published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. The other two have not yet been published, but they along with others are coming said, Bannister. He said that this is just the star for the ASKAP and it should give a lot more during the next 12 months.