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Homing in on a fast radio burst

Nature volume 539, page 470 (24 November 2016) | Download Citation

The origins of powerful, millisecond-long radio pulses from space called fast radio bursts (FRBs) remain a mystery. But researchers studying the brightest FRB seen so far have zeroed in on its location more accurately than ever before.

Vikram Ravi at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Ryan Shannon at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science in Marsfield, Australia, and their team observed an FRB in real time using the Parkes Observatory radio telescope in Australia. By modelling the FRB's appearance in two of the telescope's 13 overlapping beams, the team constrained the origin of the FRB to just a handful of possible locations more than 1.5 billion light years (0.46 billion parsecs) away.

Pinpointing a burst's location should reveal its distance and allow astronomers to learn about the matter between galaxies, say the authors.

Science (2016)

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