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Observations of fast radio bursts at frequencies down to 400 megahertz

Nature (2019) | Download Citation

Abstract

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are highly dispersed millisecond-duration radio flashes probably arriving from far outside the Milky Way1,2. This phenomenon was discovered at radio frequencies near 1.4 gigahertz and so far has been observed in one case3 at as high as 8 gigahertz, but not below 700 megahertz in spite of substantial searches at low frequencies4,5,6,7. Here we report detections of 13 FRBs at radio frequencies as low as 400 megahertz, on the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) using the CHIME/FRB instrument8. They were detected during a telescope pre-commissioning phase, when the sensitivity and field of view were not yet at design specifications. Emission in multiple events is seen down to 400 megahertz, the lowest radio frequency to which the telescope is sensitive. The FRBs show various temporal scattering behaviours, with the majority detectably scattered, and some apparently unscattered to within measurement uncertainty even at our lowest frequencies. Of the 13 reported here, one event has the lowest dispersion measure yet reported, implying that it is among the closest yet known, and another has shown multiple repeat bursts, as described in a companion paper9. The overall scattering properties of our sample suggest that FRBs as a class are preferentially located in environments that scatter radio waves more strongly than the diffuse interstellar medium in the Milky Way.

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Data availability

The raw data used in this publication are available at https://chime-frb-open-data.github.io/.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for the warm reception and skilful help we have received from the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, operated by the National Research Council Canada. The CHIME/FRB Project is funded by a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation 2015 Innovation Fund (Project 33213), as well as by the Provinces of British Columbia and Québec, and by the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Additional support was provided by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), McGill University and the McGill Space Institute via the Trottier Family Foundation, and the University of British Columbia. The Dunlap Institute is funded by an endowment established by the David Dunlap family and the University of Toronto. Research at Perimeter Institute is supported by the Government of Canada through Industry Canada and by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Research & Innovation. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. P.C. is supported by an FRQNT Doctoral Research Award and a Mitacs Globalink Graduate Fellowship. M.D. acknowledges support from CIFAR, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery and Accelerator Grants, and from FRQNT Centre de Recherche en Astrophysique du Québec (CRAQ). B.M.G. acknowledges the support of the NSERC through grant RGPIN-2015-05948, and the Canada Research Chairs program. A.S.H. is partly supported by the Dunlap Institute. V.M.K. holds the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics & Cosmology and a Canada Research Chair and receives support from an NSERC Discovery Grant and Herzberg Award, from an R. Howard Webster Foundation Fellowship from CIFAR, and CRAQ. C.M. is supported by a NSERC Undergraduate Research Award. J.M.-P. is supported by the MIT Kavli Fellowship in Astrophysics and a FRQNT postdoctoral research scholarship. M.M. is supported by a NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship. Z.P. is supported by a Schulich Graduate Fellowship. S.M.R. is a CIFAR Senior Fellow and is supported by the NSF Physics Frontiers Center award 1430284. P.S. is supported by a DRAO Covington Fellowship from the National Research Council Canada. FRB research at UBC is supported by an NSERC Discovery Grant and by CIFAR.

Author information

Author notes

  1. A list of participants and their affiliations appears at the end of the paper.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

    • M. Amiri
    • , D. Cubranic
    • , M. Deng
    • , M. Fandino
    • , D. C. Good
    • , M. Halpern
    • , A. S. Hill
    • , G. Hinshaw
    • , C. Höfer
    • , N. Milutinovic
    • , T. Pinsonneault-Marotte
    • , J. R. Shaw
    • , I. H. Stairs
    •  & P. Yadav
  2. CSEE, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

    • K. Bandura
  3. Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

    • K. Bandura
  4. Department of Physics, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada

    • M. Bhardwaj
    • , P. Boubel
    • , P. J. Boyle
    • , C. Brar
    • , P. Chawla
    • , J. F. Cliche
    • , M. Dobbs
    • , E. Fonseca
    • , A. J. Gilbert
    • , D. Hanna
    • , A. Josephy
    • , V. M. Kaspi
    • , J. Mena-Parra
    • , M. Merryfield
    • , C. Moatti
    • , A. Naidu
    • , C. Patel
    • , Z. Pleunis
    • , S. R. Siegel
    •  & S. P. Tendulkar
  5. McGill Space Institute, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada

    • M. Bhardwaj
    • , P. Boubel
    • , P. J. Boyle
    • , C. Brar
    • , P. Chawla
    • , J. F. Cliche
    • , M. Dobbs
    • , E. Fonseca
    • , A. J. Gilbert
    • , D. Hanna
    • , A. Josephy
    • , V. M. Kaspi
    • , J. Mena-Parra
    • , M. Merryfield
    • , C. Moatti
    • , A. Naidu
    • , C. Patel
    • , Z. Pleunis
    • , S. R. Siegel
    •  & S. P. Tendulkar
  6. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

    • M. M. Boyce
  7. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • M. Burhanpurkar
  8. Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    • N. Denman
    • , B. M. Gaensler
    • , R. Mckinven
    • , C. Ng
    • , A. Renard
    • , I. Tretyakov
    •  & K. Vanderlinde
  9. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    • N. Denman
    • , B. M. Gaensler
    • , R. Mckinven
    •  & K. Vanderlinde
  10. Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

    • U. Giri
    • , D. A. Lang
    • , M. Rafiei-Ravandi
    •  & K. M. Smith
  11. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

    • U. Giri
    •  & D. A. Lang
  12. Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre, National Research Council of Canada, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

    • A. S. Hill
    • , T. L. Landecker
    • , N. Milutinovic
    • , P. Scholz
    •  & J. R. Shaw
  13. Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO, USA

    • A. S. Hill
  14. MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • K. W. Masui
    •  & J. Mena-Parra
  15. Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • K. W. Masui
  16. Department of Physics, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

    • L. B. Newburgh
  17. Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    • U. Pen
  18. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Charlottesville, VA, USA

    • S. M. Ransom
  19. Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    • I. Tretyakov

Consortia

  1. The CHIME/FRB Collaboration

Contributions

All authors on this paper played either leadership or significant supporting roles in one or more of the following: the management, development and construction of the CHIME telescope, the CHIME/FRB instrument and the CHIME/FRB software data pipeline, the commissioning and operations of the CHIME/FRB instrument, the data analysis and preparation of this manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. Amiri.

Extended data

  1. Extended Data Table 1 Notes regarding CHIME site activity near epochs (which are referred to 600 MHz) of reported FRBs
  2. Extended Data Table 2 Fluence estimates and associated errors of the pre-commissioning sample of CHIME/FRB events

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https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0867-7

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