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Emmanuel Fonseca on team of researchers who discovered 535 new fast radio bursts


Over a period of time, between 2018 and 2019, researchers made the discovery of 535 new fast radio bursts, adding great excitement to field of cosmology and astrophysics. The discovery was made using the CHIME (Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment) radio telescope in Canada.  The scope of this discovery is immense given that only 150 fast radio bursts (FRBs) had been previously discovered, in all. 

Fast Radio Bursts are brief (few millisecond) bursts of radio waves coming from far beyond our Milky Way galaxy (extragalactic). The phenomenon was first reported by West Virginia University and Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology researchers, Drs. Duncan Lorimer and Maura McLaughlin and team back in 2007.  These cosmic bursts remain a mystery as their origin is unknown.

Emmanuel Fonseca

The observations, or catalog,  quadrupled the number of known FRBs and this new catalog of FRBs reveal two types: one-offs and repeaters. The 535 new FRBs included a diverse collection of data that now allow scientists to segment the types of FRBs-ones that repeat and the ones that do not repeat.  In the new catalog, scientist identified 18 FRB sources that burst repeatedly while the rest appear to be one offs, or non-repeating. With so many new FRBs now pinpointed, and the data is now captured, scientists can begin to address multiple unanswered questions. 

Dr. Emmanuel Fonseca (above), assistant professor at West Virginia University and the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology, was on the CHIME research team who announced earlier this month that they had quadrupled the number of FRBs currently cataloged. Following the announcement, Dr. Fonseca penned an article in The Conversation describing their discoveries, and further explaining why they are critical to cosmology, as well as advancing our knowledge and understanding of our universe and its unknown origins.

With this immense addition to the current catalog of fast radio bursts, researchers can continue to study the foundational elements of FRBs including a better understanding of their extreme origins and further cosmological exploration.


Read Dr. Fonseca’s full article on the discoveries here in The Conversation.

Media Coverage:

The Conversation


Astronomy Magazine:

MIT News:

AAS Press:

The First CHIME FRB/Fast Radio Burst Catalog

McGill University: