China's FAST Radio Telescope Captures Over 1600 FRBs

China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) has been used to detect over 1600 independent Fast Radio Burst (FRB) transmissions. Chinese astronomers detected a huge number of signals over 47 days from FRB 121102. In all, Chinese radio astronomers detected 1652 independent bursts over 47 days beginning on August 29, 2019.

Astronomers say it's the largest set of FRB events ever discovered. The total of 1652 FRBs discovered is more than what's been reported in all other publications combined. With such a large set, scientists were able to determine the characteristic energy and energy distribution of an FRB for the first time. That data helps scientists understand what powers FRBs.

The origins of an FRB remain mysterious, but scientists know the explosions can be very short, lasting only one-thousandth of a second. Despite the extremely short duration, an FRB can produce as much energy in that fraction of a second as the sun produces in a year. Despite the new data gathered by the Chinese astronomers, the source of FRB is still unknown.

There are multiple theories on what causes an FRB, including alien civilizations. However, most scientists believe there is some sort of natural cause is behind an FRB. The most likely scenarios for an FRB source include hyper-magnetized neutron stars, black holes, and cosmic strings left from the Big Bang.

FRB 121102 is the first FRB known to repeat and the first well-localized FRB. Its origin is in a dwarf galaxy, and the FRB was clearly associated with a persistent radio signal. Scientists note that this particular FRB is difficult to predict, and it's described as seasonal. The total energy from the set of bursts combined had 2.8 percent of the energy available from a magnetar.