Mystery radio signals coming to us from space ‘deeper’ than scientists thought

Mysterious signals coming from space are 'deeper than first thought', researchers have revealed.

The closest fast radio burst was spotted in 2018, at just 500 million light-years away and named named 'FRB20180916B' by astronomers.

But researchers at McGill University and members of Canada's CHIME Fast Radio Burst have found that the radio signals are coming to us at lower frequencies than scientists had previously realised, meaning they could be further away than originally thought.

The discovery "redraws the boundaries for theoretical astrophysicists trying to put their finger on the source of FRBs", according to the latest research.

Postdoctoral researcher in McGill's Department of Physics and lead author of the research recently published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Ziggy Pleunis said: "We detected fast radio bursts down to 110 MHz where before these bursts were only known to exist down to 300 MHz

"This tells us that the region around the source of the bursts must be transparent to low-frequency emission, whereas some theories suggested that all low-frequency emission would be absorbed right away and could never be detected."

The team combined the capacities of CHIME with those of LOFAR, another radio telescope in the Netherlands, made a joint effort to publish the latest findings.

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Their teamwork also revealed there was a 'consistent delay' of around three days between higher frequencies being picked up by CHIME and the lower ones reaching LOFAR.

Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Physics at McGill and Co-author, Daniele Michilli said: "This systematic delay rules out explanations for the periodic activity that do not allow for the frequency dependence and thus brings us a few steps closer to understanding the origin of these mysterious bursts."

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  • Some of the first FRBs were first discovered more than a decade ago.

    They are seen as individual flashes but others like FRB20180916B cycle rhythmically over and over again, making them particularly baffling to scientists.

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