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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 11 June, 2021

  • 15 Min Read

CHIME Telescope

CHIME Telescope

  • Scientists with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Collaboration, who include researchers at the Pune-based Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), have assembled the largest collection of fast radio bursts (FRBs) in the telescope’s first FRB catalogue.
  • While catching sight of an FRB is considered a rare thing in the field of radio astronomy, prior to the CHIME project, radio astronomers had only caught sight of around 140 bursts in their scopes since the first FRB was spotted in 2007.

What is CHIME?

  • CHIME is an interferometric radio telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia, Canada.
  • It consists of four antennas consisting of 100 x 20-meter cylindrical parabolic reflectors with 1024 dual-polarization radio receivers suspended on support above them.
  • The telescope receives radio signals each day from half of the sky as the Earth rotates.
  • While most radio astronomy is done by swiveling a large dish to focus light from different parts of the sky, CHIME stares, motionless, at the sky, and focuses incoming signals using a correlator.
  • This is a powerful digital signal processor that can work through huge amounts of data, at a rate of about seven terrabytes per second, equivalent to a few percent of the world’s Internet traffic.

What are Fast Radio Bursts?

  • FRBs are oddly bright flashes of light, registering in the radio band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which blaze for a few milliseconds before vanishing without a trace.
  • These brief and mysterious beacons have been spotted in various and distant parts of the universe, as well as in our own galaxy.
  • Their origins are unknown and their appearance is highly unpredictable.
  • But the advent of the CHIME project — a large stationary radio telescope in British Columbia, Canada — has been a game changer and has nearly quadrupled the number of fast radio bursts discovered to date.
  • With more observations, astronomers hope soon to pin down the extreme origins of these curiously bright signals.
  • The telescope has detected a whopping 535 new fast radio bursts in its first year of operation itself, between 2018 and 2019.
  • When the scientists mapped their locations, they found the bursts were evenly distributed in space, seeming to arise from any and all parts of the sky.
  • From the FRBs that CHIME was able to detect, the scientists calculated that bright fast radio bursts occur at a rate of about 800 per day across the entire sky — the most precise estimate of FRBs overall rate to date.

Source: TH


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