In recent years, millisecond-duration radio signals originating in distant galaxies appear to have been discovered in the so-called fast radio bursts1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. These signals are dispersed according to a precise physical law and this dispersion is a key observable quantity, which, in tandem with a redshift measurement, can be used for fundamental physical investigations10,11. Every fast radio burst has a dispersion measurement, but none before now have had a redshift measurement, because of the difficulty in pinpointing their celestial coordinates. Here we report the discovery of a fast radio burst and the identification of a fading radio transient lasting ~6 days after the event, which we use to identify the host galaxy; we measure the galaxy’s redshift to be z = 0.492 ± 0.008. The dispersion measure and redshift, in combination, provide a direct measurement of the cosmic density of ionized baryons in the intergalactic medium of ΩIGM = 4.9 ± 1.3 per cent, in agreement with the expectation from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe12, and including all of the so-called ‘missing baryons’. The ~6-day radio transient is largely consistent with the radio afterglow of a short γ-ray burst13, and its existence and timescale do not support progenitor models such as giant pulses from pulsars, and supernovae. This contrasts with the interpretation8 of another recently discovered fast radio burst, suggesting that there are at least two classes of bursts.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Lorimer, D. R., Bailes, M., McLaughlin, M. A., Narkevic, D. J. & Crawford, F. A bright millisecond radio burst of extragalactic origin. Science 318, 777–780 (2007)
Keane, E. F., Stappers, B. W., Kramer, M. & Lyne, A. G. On the origin of a highly dispersed coherent radio burst. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 425, L71–L75 (2012)
Thornton, D. et al. A population of fast radio bursts at cosmological distances. Science 341, 53–56 (2013)
Spitler, L. G. et al. Fast radio burst discovered in the Arecibo pulsar ALFA survey. Astrophys. J. 790, 101–110 (2014)
Burke-Spolaor, S. & Bannister, K. W. The galactic position dependence of fast radio bursts and the discovery of FRB 011025. Astrophys. J. 792, 19–26 (2014)
Ravi, V., Shannon, R. M. & Jameson, A. A fast radio burst in the direction of the Carina dwarf spheroidal galaxy. Astrophys. J. 799, L5–L10 (2015)
Petroff, E. et al. A real-time fast radio burst: polarization detection and multiwavelength follow-up. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 447, 246–255 (2015)
Masui, K. et al. Dense magnetized plasma associated with a fast radio burst. Nature 528, 523–525 (2015)
Champion, D. et al. Five new fast radio bursts from the HTRU high latitude survey: RST evidence for two-component bursts. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc . (submitted); preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1511.07746 (2015)
McQuinn, M. Locating the “missing” baryons with extragalactic dispersion measure estimates. Astrophys. J. 780, L33 (2014)
Zhou, B., Li, X., Wang, T., Fan, Y.-Z. & Wei, D.-M. Fast radio bursts as a cosmic probe? Phys. Rev. D 89, 107303 (2014)
Hinshaw, G. et al. Nine-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) observations: cosmological parameter results. Astrophys. J . 208 (Suppl.), 19 (2013)
Chandra, P. & Frail, D. A. A. Radio-selected sample of gamma-ray burst afterglows. Astrophys. J. 746, 156 (2012)
Cordes, J. M. & Lazio, T. J. W. NE2001.I. A new model for the Galactic distribution of free electrons and its fluctuations. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0207156 (2002)
Bhat, N. D. R., Cordes, J. M., Camilo, F., Nice, D. J. & Lorimer, D. R. Multifrequency observations of radio pulse broadening and constraints on interstellar electron density microstructure. Astrophys. J. 605, 759–783 (2004)
Bell, M. E. et al. A search for variable and transient radio sources in the extended Chandra Deep Field South at 5.5 GHz. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 450, 4221–4232 (2015)
Brown, M. J. I., Jannuzi, B. T., Floyd, D. J. E. & Mould, J. R. The ubiquitous radio continuum emission from the most massive early-type galaxies. Astrophys. J. 731, L41 (2011)
Mooley, K. P. et al. The Caltech-NRAO Stripe 82 Survey (CNSS) paper I: the pilot radio transient survey in 50 deg2. Astrophys. J. (in the press); http://arxiv.org/abs/1601.01693 (2016)
Ioka, K. The cosmic dispersion measure from gamma-ray burst afterglows: probing the reionization history and the burst environment. Astrophys. J. 598, L79–L82 (2003)
Inoue, S. Probing the cosmic reionization history and local environment of gamma-ray bursts through radio dispersion. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 348, 999–1008 (2004)
Dolag, K., Gaensler, B. M., Beck, A. M. & Beck, M. C. Constraints on the distribution and energetics of fast radio bursts using cosmological hydrodynamic simulations. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 451, 4277–4289 (2015)
Xu, J. & Han, J. L. Extragalactic dispersion measures of fast radio bursts. Res. Astron. Astrophys. 15, 1629 (2015)
Fukugita, M. & Peebles, P. J. E. The cosmic energy inventory. Astrophys. J. 616, 643–668 (2004)
Bregman, J. N. The search for the missing baryons at low redshift. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 45, 221–259 (2007)
Staveley-Smith, L. et al. The Parkes 21 cm multibeam receiver. Publ. Astron. Soc. Aust . 13, 243–248 (1996)
Pietka, M., Fender, R. P. & Keane, E. F. The variability time-scales and brightness temperatures of radio flares from stars to supermassive black holes. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 446, 3687–3696 (2015)
Fong, W., Berger, E., Margutti, R. & Ashley, B. A. A decade of short-duration gamma-ray burst broad-band afterglows: energetics, circumburst densities, and jet opening angles. Astrophys. J. 815, 102 (2015)
Berger, E. Short-duration gamma-ray bursts. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 52, 43–105 (2014)
Frail, D. A., Kulkarni, S. R., Nicastro, L., Feroci, M. & Taylor, G. B. The radio afterglow from the γ-ray burst of 8 May 1997. Nature 389, 261–263 (1997)
Kulkarni, S. R., Ofek, E. O. & Neill, J. D. The Arecibo fast radio burst: dense circum-burst medium. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1511.09137 (2015)
Zheng, Z., Ofek, E. O., Kulkarni, S. R., Neill, J. D. & Juric, M. Probing the intergalactic medium with fast radio bursts. Astrophys. J. 797, 71 (2014)
Dennison, B. Fast radio bursts: constraints on the dispersing medium. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 443, L11–L14 (2014)
Hotan, A. W., van Straten, W. & Manchester, R. N. PSRCHIVE and PSRFITS: an open approach to radio pulsar data storage and analysis. Publ. Astron. Soc. Aust . 21, 302–309 (2004)
Tingay, S. J. et al. The Murchison Widefield Array: The Square Kilometre Array precursor at low radio frequencies. Publ. Astron. Soc. Aust . 30, e007 (2013)
Abbott, B. P. et al. LIGO: the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Rep. Prog. Phys. 72, 076901 (2009)
Becker, R. H., Helfand, D. J., White, R. L. & Proctor, D. D. Variable radio sources in the Galactic Plane. Astron. J. 140, 157–166 (2010)
Ofek, E. O. et al. A very large array search for 5 GHz radio transients and variables at low galactic latitudes. Astrophys. J. 740, 65 (2011)
Frail, D. A., Kulkarni, S. R., Ofek, E. O., Bower, G. C. & Nakar, E. A revised view of the transient radio sky. Astrophys. J. 747, 70 (2012)
Croft, S., Bower, G. C. & Whysong, D. The Allen Telescope Array Pi GHz Sky Survey. III. The ELAIS-N1, Coma, and Lockman hole fields. Astrophys. J. 762, 93 (2013)
Gal-Yam, A. et al. Radio and optical follow-up observations of a uniform radio transient search: implications for gamma-ray bursts and supernovae. Astrophys. J. 639, 331–339 (2006)
Miyazaki, S. et al. Subaru Prime Focus Camera—Suprime-Cam. Publ. Astron. Soc. Jpn 54, 833–853 (2002)
Davenport, J. R. A. et al. The SDSS-2MASS-WISE 10-dimensional stellar colour locus. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 440, 3430–3438 (2014)
Cohen, M., Wheaton, W. A. & Megeath, S. T. Spectral irradiance calibration in the infrared. XIV. The absolute calibration of 2MASS. Astron. J. 126, 1090–1096 (2003)
Jarrett, T. H. et al. The Spitzer-WISE survey of the ecliptic poles. Astrophys. J. 735, 112 (2011)
Brammer, G. B., van Dokkum, P. G. & Coppi, P. EAZY: a fast, public photometric redshift code. Astrophys. J. 686, 1503–1513 (2008)
da Cunha, E., Charlot, S. & Elbaz, D. A simple model to interpret the ultraviolet, optical and infrared emission from galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 388, 1595–1617 (2008)
Faber, S. M. & Jackson, R. E. Velocity dispersions and mass-to-light ratios for elliptical galaxies. Astrophys. J. 204, 668–683 (1976)
Bullock, J. S. et al. Profiles of dark haloes: evolution, scatter and environment. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 321, 559–575 (2001)
Kennicutt, R. C. Jr. The global Schmidt law in star-forming galaxies. Astrophys. J. 498, 541–552 (1998)
The Parkes radio telescope and the Australia Telescope Compact Array are part of the Australia Telescope National Facility, which is funded by the Commonwealth of Australia for operation as a National Facility managed by CSIRO. Parts of this research were conducted by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) and used the gSTAR national facility at Swinburne University of Technology. Parts of this work are based on data collected at the Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory operated by CSIRO, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), which is run by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Sardinia Radio Telescope as part of scientific commissioning of the telescope, and the 100-m telescope of the MPIfR at Effelsberg. We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamatji people as the traditional owners of the MWA Observatory site.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Extended data figures and tables
A χ2 fit of the redshift of the galaxy based on the spectral energy (Lv) distribution is shown. The photometric redshift determined from this is 0.48 < z < 0.56 (68% confidence, denoted by the shaded regions). Two spectral fits are shown, and these are denoted by the red and blue shading respectively. The spectral redshift is denoted by the dashed vertical line. The inset shows the spectral energy distribution fit, with the seven photometric estimates overplotted with 1σ error bars.
The surface brightness profile of the galaxy in the Subaru i′ band image was fitted to an ellipsoidal Sersic function. Best-fit values for the half-light radius (Re), Sersic index (n), axis ratio (b/a) and position angle (PA) are given in the inset. The model profiles and data are shown as the flux along an ellipse as a function of semi-major axis. The image point spread function (PSF) profile is also shown as a function of radius. Error bars give the root-mean-square scatter of the pixel counts along the axis.
About this article
Cite this article
Keane, E., Johnston, S., Bhandari, S. et al. The host galaxy of a fast radio burst. Nature 530, 453–456 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature17140
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2020)
The SUrvey for pulsars and extragalactic radio bursts V: recent discoveries and full timing solutions
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2020)
Orbit-induced Spin Precession as a Possible Origin for Periodicity in Periodically Repeating Fast Radio Bursts
The Astrophysical Journal (2020)
The Astrophysical Journal (2020)
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2019)