Cosmology Seminar

Fast Radio Bursts: mysterious flashes from cosmological distances

Tuesday, 04 April 2017 12:00PM PDT
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Cosmology Seminar
 
Kiyoshi Masui
UBC
 
Fast Radio Bursts: mysterious flashes from cosmological distances
 
Apr 04, 2017 at 12PM
 

Synopsis

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, culminating in the identification of an FRB's host galaxy. I will summarize these recent results as well as describe the CHIME/FRB project, which will observe thousands of bursts starting later in 2017.