February 24, 2016

"An international team of scientists using a combination of radio and optical telescopes has for the first time managed to identify the location of a fast radio burst, allowing them to confirm the current cosmological model of the distribution of matter in the universe."

phys.org: On April 18, 2015, a fast radio burst (FRB) was detected by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)'s 64-m Parkes radio telescope in Australia. via University of Manchester

'An international alert was triggered to follow it up with other telescopes and within a few hours, a number of telescopes around the world were looking for the signal, including CSIRO's Australian Telescope Compact Array (ATCA).

'FRBs are mysterious bright radio flashes generally lasting only a few milliseconds. Their origin is still unknown, with a long list of potential phenomena associated with them. FRBs are very difficult to detect; before this discovery only 16 had been detected.

'"In the past FRBs have been found by sifting through data months or even years later. By that time it is too late to do follow up observations." says Dr Evan Keane, Project Scientist at the Square Kilometre Array Organisation and the lead scientist behind the study. To remedy this, the team developed their own observing system to detect FRBs within seconds, and to immediately alert other telescopes, when there is still time to search for more evidence in the aftermath of the initial flash.

'Thanks to the ATCA's six 22-m dishes and their combined resolution, the team was able to pinpoint the location of the signal with much greater accuracy than has been possible in the past and detected a radio afterglow that lasted for around 6 days before fading away. This afterglow enabled them to pinpoint the location of the FRB about 1000 times more precisely than for previous events.'

"The host galaxy of a fast radio burst" by E. F. Keane, et al. here

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