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Canada B.C. telescope detects far-off bursts of light

15:00  05 august  2018
15:00  05 august  2018 Source:   msn.com

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Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. B . C . telescope detects far - off bursts of light . The Canadian Press 2018-08-05 Spencer Harwood. Fast radio bursts are made up of photons, which are particles of light that can be dispersed by gas and dust found it space.

Aberration of light : light from a distant source appears to be from a different location for a moving telescope due to the finite speed of light . First measurement attempts. In 1629, Isaac Beeckman proposed an experiment in which a person observes the flash of a cannon reflecting off a mirror about

  B.C. telescope detects far-off bursts of light © Provided by thecanadianpress.com VANCOUVER - A new radio telescope has allowed space watchers to see bursts of light travelling from a far-away galaxy in a discovery they say could open new doors in understanding the universe and the study of star systems.

The revolutionary radio telescope housed in an observatory south of Penticton, B.C., is at the centre of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME.

It is a collaboration by several North American universities, including the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, Yale and the National Research Council of Canada.

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Gamma-ray bursts are by far the brightest and most powerful explosions in the Universe, second only to the Big Bang itself. So it might seem a bit surprising that a Almost 40 years have passed since top secret nuclear weapon warning satellites accidentally discovered bursts of high energy gamma rays

Such one- off millisecond bursts have puzzled astrophysicists for a decade now and have been proposed as being the result of everything from But the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) --- a new million telescope in a radio quiet region of British Columbia ( B . C

Deborah Good, a UBC PhD student working on the project, said unlike a normal radio dish, this radio telescope is made up of four cylinders containing 1,024 antennae that can measure fast, short-lived bursts of light found on the radio wave spectrum called fast radio bursts.

Fast radio bursts are made up of photons, which are particles of light that can be dispersed by gas and dust found it space. The further away they are, the more dispersed they will be.

The telescope was originally designed to chart hydrogen and measure the historical expansion of the universe.

Good said the majority of the bursts they previously detected were measured around 1,400 megahertz, making the bursts detected on July 25 at 580 megahertz an illuminating find.

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Astronomers first detected these so-called fast radio bursts in 2007. Until now, all 16 FRBs that have been reported have been found by combing through archival data. A zoomed-in view of an elliptical galaxy showing the fast radio burst detected by the Parkes radio telescope in Australia.

Most objects in space give off (radiate) light . This light is given different names, depending on its Astronomers use telescopes that detect different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. The best place to detect most radiation is above the blocking atmosphere, so some telescopes are put in orbit

While the telescope is extremely sensitive, Good said it's a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack using a large magnifying glass.

"If you look in the right place, you'll find it. It's just hard to figure out where that place is," she said.

Radio waves occur naturally from cosmic objects and lightning strikes, and are longer waves of light than the human eye can normally see, like the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums.

On a typical day, the telescope detects between two and 50 fast radio bursts. After a previous burst measuring 700 megahertz was spotted, Good said they were worried that might be the lowest frequency they could see with the telescope, or that perhaps they weren't searching for the right frequencies.

"We're kind of relieved to see that, indeed, we get to see things in the lower half of the band," she said during a telephone interview.

Good likened the telescope to studying a group of college students: observing 20 college students would not necessarily give you enough data to analyze, but if you studied several thousand, the data becomes significantly deeper and allows researchers to find trends.

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The Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, previously called the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission, is a NASA space telescope designed to detect gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). It was launched on November 20, 2004, aboard a Delta II rocket.

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation. Although not the first space telescope

"If I know there's one guy with glasses, that doesn't tell me if glasses are just a feature that college students can have, or if this guy is some other type of thing because he's a college student with glasses," Good said while explaining the importance of measuring more fast radio bursts so researchers can better understand what they've found so far.

Researchers have detected several more such bursts recently, she said, but they are still measuring the information and she couldn't go into further detail. The recent discoveries are very exciting and a bit of luck after weeks of hard work, she said.

"With astronomy we're trying to detect something that's out there and we don't get to control when it shows up," said Good, referring to the difficulty of the experiment versus more typical scientific experiments with human control.

For those hoping the radio bursts might be a sign of alien life, Good dispels that notion.

"There's a bunch of theories right now, but one thing we're really confident about is that it's not aliens," she said laughing.

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