MIT And Canadian Astronomers Double The Number Of Known Repeating Fast Radio Bursts

Thursday, May 25, 2023
by Maia Weinstock, Nayanika

A large team of astronomers, including several from the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and the MIT Department of Physics, have collaborated on work to decipher the origin and nature of FRBs. Their recent open-access publication in The Astrophysical Journal reports the discovery of 25 new repeating FRB sources, doubling the known number of these phenomena known to scientists to 50. In addition, the team found that many repeating FRBs are inactive, producing less than one burst per week of observing time.

MIT postdoc Daniele Michilli and PhD student Kaitlyn Shin, both members of MIT Assistant Professor Kiyoshi Masui’s Synoptic Radio Lab, analyzed signals from CHIME’s 1,024 antennae. In addition to Michilli, Shin, and Masui, MIT contributors to the study include physics graduate students Calvin Leung and Haochen Wang.

The work, Michilli says, “allowed us to unambiguously identify some of the sources as repeaters and to provide other observatories with accurate coordinates for follow-up studies.”

“Now that we have a much larger sample of repeating FRBs, we’re better equipped to understand why we might observe some FRBs to be repeaters and others to be apparently non-repeating, and what the implications are for better understanding their origins,” says Shin.

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