CSIRO radio telescope nearly doubles number of fast radio bursts

An artist’s impression of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope observing fast radio bursts in fly’s-eye mode. Each antenna points in a slightly different direction, giving maximum sky coverage – © OzGrav, Swinburne UoT
Antennas of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope – CSIRO/Alex Cherney©

Australian researchers using a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) radio telescope in Western Australia have nearly doubled the known number of “fast radio bursts” – powerful flashes of radio waves from deep space.

The team’s discoveries include the closest and brightest fast radio bursts ever detected and their findings were reported from CSIRO HQ in Canberra on 10 October and in the journal Nature. Fast radio bursts come from all over the sky and last for just milliseconds. Scientists do not know what causes them but it must involve incredible energy – equivalent to the amount released by the Sun in 80 years, it is claimed.