Fast radio bursts (FRBs) – a type of transient radio pulse believed to be caused by some type of high energy astrophysical process not yet fully understood by scientists – were first discovered in 2007 with astronomers from around the world regularly detecting the eerie cosmic phenomena, which often comes from galaxies billions of light-years away.
Canada’s CHIME interferometric radio telescope, constructed in 2017 at the Penticton, British Columbia-based Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, picked up a whopping 535 new fast radio bursts during its first year of operation between 2018 and 2019, scientists working on the project have revealed.
Prior to the large stationary radio telescope’s construction, astronomers and astrophysicists were only able to catch about 140 FRBs. However, the specially designed CHIME – which includes four antennas containing 100 20-metre parabolic reflectors with 1024 dual-polarisation radio receivers suspended above them – allows for the accurate detection of radio waves from space at frequencies in the 400-800 MHz range. This makes it possible to detect thousands of directions simultaneously and process information using recent advances in cellular and computer processing technology.