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  • richardmitnick 1:36 pm on January 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Bevy of Mysterious Radio Bursts Finds Second Repeating Source, Both repeaters give important clues about their origins-they cannot be produced by some one-off cataclysmic event, CHIME telescope, , , The highlight of the bounty is the single burst that flared time and again   

    From Sky & Telescope: “Bevy of Mysterious Radio Bursts Finds Second Repeating Source” 

    SKY&Telescope bloc

    From Sky & Telescope

    January 9, 2019
    Shannon Hall

    CHIME Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment -A partnership between the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, Yale and the National Research Council in British Columbia, at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton,British Columbia

    More than a decade ago, astronomers discovered that every day the sky sparkles with thousands of bursts of radio waves. These flashes are hundreds of millions of times more energetic than the sun but so fleeting that astronomers miss them time and again.

    That has made it hard to pin down the origins of these so-called “fast radio bursts,” or FRBs for short. Yet there are tantalizing hints that they could represent an entirely new class of astrophysical objects. As such, they’re arguably one of the most intriguing mysteries in astrophysics, which makes their often-missed detection even more infuriating.

    Luckily, the tides are turning.

    A new telescope known as the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), nestled in the mountains of British Columbia, has already spotted 13 bursts. And of those bursts, reported January 9th in Nature and at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, one appears to repeat — an advance that might help astronomers settle its exotic origin.

    A Baker’s Dozen

    The bursts were detected over a period of just three weeks last summer, while CHIME was running at only a fraction of its full capacity. “Immediately, it was clear that this is good news,” said Victoria Kaspi (McGill University) at the meeting.

    First, it’s a resounding endorsement of the telescope’s capabilities. And while Kaspi was hesitant to say just how many bursts might become visible once the telescope is in full swing, early estimates suggest that CHIME might ultimately detect anywhere from 2 to 50 bursts per day — a feat that would truly revolutionize the field.

    Second, Kaspi noted that the radio waves from many of these bursts appear to have been scattered on their journey to Earth. That means that the FRBs likely originated in special environments that contain a lot of turbulent gas, such as near a supermassive black hole, a young supernova remnant, or a star-forming region, she said.

    A composite image of the field around the first repeating fast radio burst, FRB 121102 (indicated), showed that the burst came from a dwarf galaxy.
    Gemini Observatory / AURA / NSF / NRC

    The Gift That Keeps on Giving

    The highlight of the bounty is the single burst that flared time and again. First detected on August 14th, CHIME saw it pop up five additional times. The only other known repeating FRB was detected in 2012 and has reappeared hundreds of times since. So, a second “suggests that these repeaters are not as rare as we might have thought previously,” Kaspi said.

    What’s more: Both repeaters give important clues about their origins. The sheer fact that the bursts repeat, for example, suggest that they cannot be produced by some one-off cataclysmic event, like a core-collapse supernova or a merger of neutron stars. Both events would only occur once and a second burst would be impossible.

    But that’s not all. Both FRBs have another intriguing characteristic: Their frequencies drift downward over time. That means that the first few bursts arrived at the telescope with much higher frequencies than the final few bursts. “This is quite bizarre,” says Jason Hessels (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy) who was not involved in the recent study. “But it’s also exciting because it’s a clue to determining what kind of physics creates this burst.”

    So what might cause such a downward drift? Late last year, Hessels attempted to answer that very question with regards to the first repeating radio burst. He argued that the drift could be intrinsic to the burst, meaning the burst starts very close to an energetic source (say, a supermassive black hole) and then moves farther away over time. Such a pattern has been seen before. As solar flares propagate outward, for example, the Sun’s magnetic field strength drops — an effect that causes the flare’s radio emission to similarly drop.

    Alternatively, the drift could come from something around the burst. A cloud of extremely hot and electrically charged gas, or plasma, for example, might act as a lens, which would bend the radio waves in much the same way that water bends rays of light.

    The fact that the two events look so similar is what most excites Hessels about the newest repeater. “It really suggests they’re of the same ilk,” he says. And while Kaspi agrees that the similarity is “striking,” she notes that we can’t draw any firm conclusions yet.

    Astronomers are keeping their eyes on the mysterious burst with the hope that they will be able to tie it to the galaxy it lives in, enabling them to better understand its environment. And of course, they’re also eagerly awaiting the scores of radio bursts that CHIME will soon detect.


    CHIME/FRB Collaboration “A second source of repeating fast radio bursts.” Nature, available online on 9 January 2019.

    CHIME/FRB Collaboration “Observations of fast radio bursts at frequencies down to 400 megahertz.” Nature, available online on 9 January 2019.

    J.W.T. Hessels et al. “FRB 121102 Bursts Show Complex Time-Frequency Structure.” Submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

    See the full article here .


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    Sky & Telescope magazine, founded in 1941 by Charles A. Federer Jr. and Helen Spence Federer, has the largest, most experienced staff of any astronomy magazine in the world. Its editors are virtually all amateur or professional astronomers, and every one has built a telescope, written a book, done original research, developed a new product, or otherwise distinguished him or herself.

    Sky & Telescope magazine, now in its eighth decade, came about because of some happy accidents. Its earliest known ancestor was a four-page bulletin called The Amateur Astronomer, which was begun in 1929 by the Amateur Astronomers Association in New York City. Then, in 1935, the American Museum of Natural History opened its Hayden Planetarium and began to issue a monthly bulletin that became a full-size magazine called The Sky within a year. Under the editorship of Hans Christian Adamson, The Sky featured large illustrations and articles from astronomers all over the globe. It immediately absorbed The Amateur Astronomer.

    Despite initial success, by 1939 the planetarium found itself unable to continue financial support of The Sky. Charles A. Federer, who would become the dominant force behind Sky & Telescope, was then working as a lecturer at the planetarium. He was asked to take over publishing The Sky. Federer agreed and started an independent publishing corporation in New York.

    “Our first issue came out in January 1940,” he noted. “We dropped from 32 to 24 pages, used cheaper quality paper…but editorially we further defined the departments and tried to squeeze as much information as possible between the covers.” Federer was The Sky’s editor, and his wife, Helen, served as managing editor. In that January 1940 issue, they stated their goal: “We shall try to make the magazine meet the needs of amateur astronomy, so that amateur astronomers will come to regard it as essential to their pursuit, and professionals to consider it a worthwhile medium in which to bring their work before the public.”

  • richardmitnick 12:15 pm on December 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CHIME telescope, , , , New fellowships, ,   

    From Perimeter Institute: “New fellowships to fuel fundamental physics with radio telescopes in Canada” 

    Perimeter Institute

    From Perimeter Institute

    December 20, 2018

    Perimeter Institute and Canada’s National Research Council have created a pair of postdoctoral fellowships for exceptional emerging radio astronomers.

    As radio astronomy enters a transformative new era, Perimeter Institute and Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) have launched two new fellowships to accelerate the research of young scientists conducting theory, data analysis, or instrument development.

    The new initiative is a collaboration between Perimeter and NRC’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO), the site of Canada’s revolutionary Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Telescope.

    CHIME Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment -A partnership between the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, Yale and the National Research Council in British Columbia, at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton,British Columbia

    Instruments like CHIME and forthcoming experiments possess unprecedented statistical power, promising to open new windows into fundamental physics questions, including dark matter, gravity, and neutrinos. These instruments will be used to tackle new challenges in data analysis and high-performance computing, and will help scientists resolve deep astronomical puzzles, such as the origin of fast radio bursts (FRBs).

    The Perimeter-DRAO partnership will bring together theorists, data analysts, and instrumentalists at the leading edge of this very exciting field.

    One of the postdoctoral fellows will be based at the DRAO, with the other at Perimeter Institute; each will be encouraged to spend time at the other institution to deepen the partnership and strengthen the connections between the institutions.

    Perimeter Institute is part of a number of radio astronomy collaborations, including CHIME/FRB, HIRAX (Hydrogen Intensity and Real-time Analysis Experiment), and the EHT (Event Horizon Telescope), among others.

    SKA HIRAX prototype dishes at Hartebeesthoek Astronomy Observatory near Johannesburg.

    EHT map

    EHT APEX, IRAM, G. Narayanan, J. McMahon, JCMT/JAC, S. Hostler, D. Harvey, ESO/C. Malin

    Perimeter researchers associated with these initiatives include Avery Broderick, Ue-Li Pen, Will Percival, Daniel Siegel, Kendrick Smith, and Neil Turok.

    In addition to hosting CHIME in British Columbia and several other radio telescopes, DRAO features laboratories and specialized equipment for the design and construction of all aspects of radio-frequency instrumentation, from highly sensitive antennae and receiver systems to high-speed digital signal processing hardware and software. This national facility is home to astronomers, astrophysicists, engineers, and technologists, as well as visiting researchers and students from universities and astronomical observatories around the world.

    The deadline to apply for the fellowships is January 31, 2019. Find more information and apply here.

    See the full article here .


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    About Perimeter
    Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.

  • richardmitnick 6:57 am on March 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: $23 Million in New Funding for Dunlap Institute Astronomers, , , , CHIME telescope, , , , ,   

    From Dunlap: “$23 Million in New Funding for Dunlap Institute Astronomers” 

    Dunlap Institute bloc
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics

    Oct 12,2017

    Prof. Bryan Gaensler, Director
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
    University of Toronto
    p: 416-978-6623
    e: bgaensler@dunlap.utoronto.ca
    web: http://www.dunlap.utoronto.ca/prof-bryan-gaensler/

    Prof. Suresh Sivanandam
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
    University of Toronto
    p: 416-978-6779
    e: sivanandam@dunlap.utoronto.ca
    web: http://www.dunlap.utoronto.ca/suresh-sivanandam/

    Chris Sasaki
    Communications Coordinator | Press Officer
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics
    University of Toronto
    p: 416-978-6613
    e: csasaki@dunlap.utoronto.ca

    Astronomers from the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics have received $23 million in new funding: $10 million for the development of a radio astronomy data centre and $13 million for a new infrared spectrograph.

    The awards represent a significant milestone in the Dunlap’s mandate of developing innovative astronomical technology.

    “The Dunlap Institute’s main mission is to develop innovative new approaches to astronomy, and these two new large grants are a terrific endorsement that we’re on the right track,” says Dunlap Director Prof. Bryan Gaensler.

    “In particular, these projects superbly position the Dunlap Institute for national and international leadership. We’re excited to now flex our muscles and build big, new teams that will develop the tools and equipment needed for 21st century astronomy.”

    Gaensler, who became the Institute’s director in January 2015, will be leading a project to build the infrastructure, computing capability, and expertise needed to process the overwhelming flood of information being produced by next-generation radio telescopes. The goal is to turn raw data into images and catalogues that astronomers can use to investigate cosmic magnetism, the evolution of galaxies, cosmic explosions, and more.

    The Dunlap’s Prof. Suresh Sivanandam will develop an infrared spectrograph for the Gemini Observatory that will produce the most detailed and sensitive infrared images of the sky. With it, astronomers will be able to study some of the faintest, oldest and most distant objects in the Universe; probe the formation of stellar and planetary systems; and investigate galaxies in the early Universe.

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    Gaensler’s project will allow Canada to play a major role in the Very Large Array Sky Survey (VLASS), an ambitious new project to make a radio map of almost the entire sky in unprecedented detail. It will also help build the Canadian capacity needed to participate in what will be the largest and most powerful radio telescope ever constructed: the Square Kilometre Array.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    Major partners include observatories and researchers at various universities across North America, including the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, and the National Research Council. It also includes collaborators from three significant new radio telescopes: the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP).

    CHIME Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment A partnership between the University of British Columbia McGill University, at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    The Gemini InfraRed Multi-Object Spectrograph (GIRMOS) is unlike any astronomical spectrograph in existence or being planned for the current suite of large telescopes, and will serve as a precursor to a spectrograph for the Thirty-Meter Telescope, now under construction in Hawaií.

    Gemini InfraRed Multi-Object Spectrograph (GIRMOS) for TMT

    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed and now approved for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    The spectrograph is designed for use on the 8-metre telescopes of the Gemini Observatory, the largest telescopes available to Canadian astronomers.

    Gemini South telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) campus near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7200 feet

    Gemini/North telescope at Maunakea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

    Major partners include Dalhousie University, the National Research Council, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Laval University, and Saint Mary’s University.

    Plus, both projects provide ample opportunities for training students and postdoctoral fellows, and help position Canadian astronomers at the forefront of the next generation of astronomical discovery.

    The annual CFI Innovation Fund awards support transformative and innovative research or technology development in areas where Canada currently is, or has the potential to be, competitive at a global level.

    For Gaensler, the awards consist of $3.5 million from CFI, and nearly $6 million from provincial and other partners. The CFI money will flow to U of T and then on to the other partners; the rest will go directly to or stay with partners. For Sivanandam, over $5 million comes from CFI, with $7.8 million from provincial and other partners.

    The awards were announced today by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, in a ceremony at the University of Manitoba, as part of a CFI investment of more than $554 million in 117 new infrastructure projects at 61 universities, colleges and research hospitals across Canada.

    Additional notes:

    1) In addition to those noted above, Prof. Gaensler’s project also includes the following partners: McGill University, Queen’s University, University of British Columbia, Cornell University, University of Minnesota, Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape, and University of California Berkeley.

    2) In addition to those partners noted above, Prof. Sivanandam’s project also includes York University and University of Manitoba.

    3) The following statement has been added to the original release: “The CFI money will flow to U of T and then on to the other partners; the rest will go directly to or stay with partners.”

    See the full article here .

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    Dunlap Institute campus

    The Dunlap Institute is committed to sharing astronomical discovery with the public. Through lectures, the web, social and new media, an interactive planetarium, and major events like the Toronto Science Festival, we are helping to answer the public’s questions about the Universe.
    Our work is greatly enhanced through collaborations with the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, David Dunlap Observatory, Ontario Science Centre, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Toronto Public Library, and many other partners.

  • richardmitnick 4:31 pm on January 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CHIME telescope, , New Canadian telescope will map largest volume of space ever surveyed,   

    From UBC: “New Canadian telescope will map largest volume of space ever surveyed” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    Sep 7, 2017 [Where has this been hiding?]
    Heather Amos

    Radio telescope will help the world’s astronomers, physicists and scientists unravel today’s biggest cosmic mysteries.

    A Canadian effort to build one of the most innovative radio telescopes in the world will open the universe to a new dimension of scientific study. Hon. Kirsty Duncan, minister of science, today installed the final piece of this new radio telescope, which will act as a time machine allowing scientists to create a three-dimensional map of the universe extending deep into space and time.

    The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, known as CHIME, is an extraordinarily powerful new telescope.

    CHIME Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment A partnership between the University of British Columbia McGill University, at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia

    The unique “half-pipe” telescope design and advanced computing power will help scientists better understand the three frontiers of modern astronomy: the history of the universe, the nature of distant stars and the detection of gravitational waves.

    By measuring the composition of dark energy, scientists will better understand the shape, structure and fate of the universe. In addition, CHIME will be a key instrument to study gravitational waves, the ripples in space-time that were only recently discovered, confirming the final piece of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

    CHIME is a collaboration among 50 Canadian scientists from the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). The $16-million investment for CHIME was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the governments of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, with additional funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The telescope is located in the mountains of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley at the NRC’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penticton.


    “CHIME is an extraordinary example showcasing Canada’s leadership in space science and engineering. The new telescope will be a destination for astronomers from around the world who will work with their Canadian counterparts to answer some of the most profound questions about space. Our government believes in providing scientists with the opportunities and tools they need to pursue the answers to questions that keep them up at night.”

    – Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

    “The National Research Council works hand-in-hand with academia for the advancement of knowledge in Canada. CHIME is a shining example of what outcomes we can achieve, working in collaboration, for today and tomorrow, for Canada and beyond.”

    – Iain Stewart, President of the National Research Council of Canada

    “With the CHIME telescope we will measure the expansion history of the universe and we expect to further our understanding of the mysterious dark energy that drives that expansion ever faster. This is a fundamental part of physics that we don’t understand and it’s a deep mystery. This is about better understanding how the universe began and what lies ahead.”

    – Mark Halpern, University of British Columbia

    “CHIME’s unique design will enable us to tackle one of the most puzzling new areas of astrophysics today – Fast Radio Bursts. The origin of these bizarre extragalactic events is presently a mystery, with only two dozen reported since their discovery a decade ago. CHIME is likely to detect many of these objects every day, providing a massive treasure trove of data that will put Canada at the forefront of this research.”

    – Victoria Kaspi, McGill University

    “CHIME ‘sees’ in a fundamentally different way from other telescopes. A massive supercomputer is used to process incoming radio light and digitally piece together an image of the radio sky. All that computing power also lets us do things that were previously impossible: we can look in many directions at once, run several experiments in parallel, and leverage the power of this new instrument in unprecedented ways.”

    – Keith Vanderlinde, University of Toronto
    Quick facts

    The CHIME telescope incorporates four 100-metre long U-shaped cylinders of metal mesh that resemble snowboard half-pipes. Its overall footprint is the size of five NHL hockey rinks.
    CHIME collects radio waves with wavelengths between 37 and 75 centimetres, similar to the wavelength used by cell phones.
    Most of the signals collected by CHIME come from our Milky Way galaxy, but a tiny fraction of these signals started on their way when the universe was between 6 and 11 billion years old.
    The radio signal from the universe is very weak and extreme sensitivity is needed to detect it. The amount of energy collected by CHIME in one year is equivalent to the amount of energy gained by a paper clip falling off a desk to the floor.
    The data rate passing through CHIME is comparable to all the data in the world’s mobile networks. There is so much data that it cannot all be saved to disk. It must first be processed and compressed by a factor of 100,000.
    Seven quadrillion computer operations occur every second on CHIME. This rate is equivalent to every person on Earth performing one million multiplication problems every second.

    See the full article here .

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    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

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