Fast Radio Bursts: a mysterious new class of astronomical object

Speaker: 
Kiyo Masui (UBC)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-01-05 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are a recently discovered and poorly understood class of astronomical transient, observed at gigahertz frequencies and with millisecond durations. The dispersion of these signals by intervening plasma indicates that the sources are extragalactic and may even be at cosmological distances. Their high rate (with thousands occurring daily) and extreme brightnesses have made them challenging to explain theoretically. This challenge has been exacerbated by the fact that only a few dozen bursts have been captured to date, and by the limited information garnered from each event. However, 2016 was a bumper year for FRBs observationally, with clues about the environment of an FRB source, the observation of an exceptionally bright burst, and the discovery of a repeating FRB. I will summarize these recent results as well as describe the CHIME/FRB project, which will observe thousands of bursts starting later in 2017.

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