Canada's CHIME telescope has detected 13 new fast radio bursts, or FRBs, including a mysterious "repeater" signal of six bursts from the single source, a galaxy located 1.5 billion light-years from Earth.
Several dozen FRBs have been recorded over the last decade, but CHIME's observations mark just the second time a repeating signal has been documented.
The majority of FRBs identified prior to CHIME's observations featured high frequencies, signals close to 1400 MHz. CHIME can only record signals between 400 MHz and 800 MHz. The new observations suggest FRBs are common at lower frequencies.
"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce," said CHIME scientist Arun Naidu of McGill University. "There are some models where intrinsically the source can't produce anything below a certain frequency."
Though scientists don't yet have an explanation for fast radio bursts, the latest signals reveal significant levels of "scattering" -- details that could help scientists better characterize the nature of the astrophysical environs from which they originate. The scattering details suggest there is something unique about structural characteristics of FRB sources.