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China's FAST telescope detects scintillation arc in fast radio burst


The FAST in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, southwest China. /CFP
The FAST in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, southwest China. /CFP

The FAST in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, southwest China. /CFP

Astronomers detected a scintillation arc in the spectrum of fast radio burst (FRB) for the first time using China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest single-dish and most sensitive radio telescope.

FRBs are mysterious radio flashes lasting only a few thousandths of a second that were confirmed in 2016 to originate from the cosmos. There is still no explanation for their origins.

An international group led by the researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' National Astronomical Observatories presented the interstellar scintillation analysis of fast radio burst (FRB) 20220912A during its extremely active episode in 2022.

According to a recent study published in the journal Science China Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy, the arc revealed that the scintillation might be caused by the ionized interstellar medium, or the material that fills the space between stars.

The discovery opens up a new approach of examining at the medium of fast radio bursts and their possible orbital motion.

The researchers also reported their method for detecting the scintillation arc, which may be applied generally to sources with irregularly spaced bursts or pulses, according to the study.

James Cordes from Cornell University said that the method used in this study can help find the FRB's host galaxy and the interstellar medium in the Milky Way.

FAST started formal operation in January 2020, located in a naturally deep and round karst depression in southwest China's Guizhou Province. It is believed to be the world's most sensitive radio telescope.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
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