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  • richardmitnick 10:13 am on January 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Are Fast Radio Bursts from Flaring Magnetars?, , , , , FRB's Fast radio Bursts   

    From AAS NOVA: “Are Fast Radio Bursts from Flaring Magnetars?” 

    AASNOVA

    From AAS NOVA

    16 January 2019
    Susanna Kohler

    1
    Artist’s impression of a magnetized neutron star. Could these objects be responsible for fast radio bursts? [ESO/L. Calçada]

    Could the mysterious fast-radio-burst signal FRB 121102 be emitted from a flaring, strongly magnetic neutron star? In a new study, two scientists explore the evidence.

    Mysterious Signals

    More than a decade ago, a powerful burst of coherent radio emission lasting only a few milliseconds mystified astronomers. The dispersion of the signal — the delay of its component frequencies by different amounts of time, depending on the wavelength — indicated that this pulse came from beyond our galaxy. But what was it?

    2
    Artist’s impression of a fast radio burst observed by the Parkes Radio Telescope. [Swinburne Astronomy Productions]

    Today, we’ve detected many dozens of these odd fast radio bursts (FRBs), including two sources that appear to repeat. The repetition has allowed scientists to learn more about the best studied of these, FRB 121102: this burst has been localized to a star-forming dwarf galaxy that lies three billion light-years from Earth. Upon closer inspection of the region, scientists found that in addition to FRB 121102’s repeating bursts, a dim and steady source of radio emission lies nearby.

    These accumulating clues all address a broad mystery: what object could be responsible for the bursting and steady emission we observe? What is the source of an FRB?

    A Magnetized Solution

    Two scientists at Columbia University, former graduate student Ben Margalit (now a NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley) and advisor Brian Metzger, recently proposed an explanation for FRB 121102: perhaps this source is a young, flaring, highly magnetized neutron star that is embedded in a decades-old supernova remnant.

    Neutron stars are dense cores left behind after a star’s spectacular death in a supernova or a gamma-ray burst. In particular, a magnetar is a type of neutron star with an extremely powerful magnetic field that causes flares and bursts early in the object’s life. Such flares from a distant young magnetar, Margalit and Metzger argue, could explain the FRB signals we observe.

    3
    Schematic of the authors’ model, in which a young, flaring magnetar is embedded in a magnetized nebula trapped behind the shell of supernova ejecta. Electrons in the magnetized nebula emit the persistent radio radiation, and the nebula leaves an imprint on the burst emission — which originates from the magnetar — as well. [Margalit & Metzger 2018]

    In addition, the newly-formed magnetar may rest in the center of a compact, magnetized nebula that’s trapped behind the expanding shell of supernova ejecta created when the magnetar was born. This magnetized nebula could power persistent radio emission like what we observed near FRB 121102.

    As a final piece of the puzzle, the authors point out that the identified home for FRB 121102 is consistent with the type of galaxy in which magnetars often form. Such small galaxies with high specific star formation rates are known to preferentially host long gamma-ray bursts and superluminous supernovae, events in which magnetars are born.

    Predicting the Future

    To test their theory, Margalit and Metzger develop a detailed time-dependent model of an expanding, magnetized electron-ion nebula inflated by a flaring, young magnetar. They then show that the energetics of their model beautifully match the properties of both the bursting and persistent radio emission from FRB 121102.

    Does this mean the mystery’s solved? We can’t say for sure yet — but the authors make specific predictions for future observations of FRB 121102 that will provide a robust test of their model. In addition, the very recent discovery of a second repeating burst, FRB 180814.J0422+73, will hopefully allow us to further explore these mysterious sources and confirm their origin.

    Citation

    “A Concordance Picture of FRB 121102 as a Flaring Magnetar Embedded in a Magnetized Ion–Electron Wind Nebula,” Ben Margalit and Brian D. Metzger 2018 ApJL 868 L4.
    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aaedad/meta

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    1

    AAS Mission and Vision Statement

    The mission of the American Astronomical Societyis to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe.

    The Society, through its publications, disseminates and archives the results of astronomical research. The Society also communicates and explains our understanding of the universe to the public.
    The Society facilitates and strengthens the interactions among members through professional meetings and other means. The Society supports member divisions representing specialized research and astronomical interests.
    The Society represents the goals of its community of members to the nation and the world. The Society also works with other scientific and educational societies to promote the advancement of science.
    The Society, through its members, trains, mentors and supports the next generation of astronomers. The Society supports and promotes increased participation of historically underrepresented groups in astronomy.
    The Society assists its members to develop their skills in the fields of education and public outreach at all levels. The Society promotes broad interest in astronomy, which enhances science literacy and leads many to careers in science and engineering.

    Adopted June 7, 2009

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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, , , FRB's Fast radio Bursts, 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.

    1
    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.

    References:

    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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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 1:55 pm on November 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASKAP-Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, , , , , , FRB's Fast radio Bursts, , Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia,   

    From International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research: “Aussie telescope almost doubles known number of mysterious ‘fast radio bursts’” 

    ICRAR Logo
    From International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

    October 11, 2018
    Dr Ryan Shannon
    Swinburne University of Technology
    & OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence
    +61 3 9214 5205
    rshannon@swin.edu.au

    Dr Jean-Pierre Macquart —
    ICRAR / Curtin University
    +61 8 9266 9248
    jean-pierre.macquart@icrar.org

    Dr Keith Bannister
    CSIRO
    +61 2 9372 4295
    keith.bannister@csiro.au

    Pete Wheeler —
    Media Contact, ICRAR
    Ph: +61 423 982 018
    pete.wheeler@icrar.org

    October 11, 2018

    Australian researchers using a 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. Their findings were reported today in the journal Nature.

    Fast radio bursts come from all over the sky and last for just milliseconds. Scientists don’t know what causes them but it must involve incredible energy—equivalent to the amount released by the Sun in 80 years. “We’ve found 20 fast radio bursts in a year, almost doubling the number detected worldwide since they were discovered in 2007,” said lead author Dr Ryan Shannon, from Swinburne University of Technology and the OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence.

    “Using the new technology of the Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), we’ve also proved that fast radio bursts are coming from the other side of the Universe rather than from our own galactic neighbourhood.”

    Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Australian Mid West. ASKAP consists of 36 identical parabolic antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument with a total collecting area of approximately 4,000 square metres.

    1
    For each burst, the top panels show what the FRB signal looks like when averaged over all frequencies. The bottom panels show how the brightness of the burst changes with frequency. The bursts are vertical because they have been corrected for dispersion. Credit: Ryan Shannon and the CRAFT collaboration.

    Co-author Dr Jean-Pierre Macquart, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said bursts travel for billions of years and occasionally pass through clouds of gas. “Each time this happens, the different wavelengths that make up a burst are slowed by different amounts,” he said. “Eventually, the burst reaches Earth with its spread of wavelengths arriving at the telescope at slightly different times, like swimmers at a finish line. “Timing the arrival of the different wavelengths tells us how much material the burst has travelled through on its journey. “And because we’ve shown that fast radio bursts come from far away, we can use them to detect all the missing matter located in the space between galaxies—which is a really exciting discovery.”

    CSIRO’s Dr Keith Bannister, who engineered the systems that detected the bursts, said ASKAP’s phenomenal discovery rate is down to two things. “The telescope has a whopping field of view of 30 square degrees, 100 times larger than the full Moon,” he said. “And, by using the telescope’s dish antennas in a radical way, with each pointing at a different part of the sky, we observed 240 square degrees all at once—about a thousand times the area of the full Moon. “ASKAP is astoundingly good for this work.”

    Dr Shannon said we now know that fast radio bursts originate from about halfway across the Universe but we still don’t know what causes them or which galaxies they come from.
    The team’s next challenge is to pinpoint the locations of bursts on the sky. “We’ll be able to localise the bursts to better than a thousandth of a degree,” Dr Shannon said.
    “That’s about the width of a human hair seen ten metres away, and good enough to tie each burst to a particular galaxy.”

    ASKAP is located at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, and is a precursor for the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    The SKA could observe large numbers of fast radio bursts, giving astronomers a way to study the early Universe in detail.

    CSIRO acknowledges the Wajarri Yamaji as the traditional owners of the MRO site.

    A fast radio burst leaves a distant galaxy, travelling to Earth over billions of years and occasionally passing through clouds of gas in its path. Each time a cloud of gas is encountered, the different wavelengths that make up a burst are slowed by different amounts. Timing the arrival of the different wavelengths at a radio telescope tells us how much material the burst has travelled through on its way to Earth and allows astronomers to to detect “missing” matter located in the space between galaxies. Credit: CSIRO/ICRAR/OzGrav/Swinburne University of Technology

    Dr Ryan Shannon (Swinburne/OzGrav), Dr Jean-Pierre Macquart (Curtin/ICRAR) and Dr Keith Bannister (CSIRO) describe their discovery of 20 new fast radio bursts (FRBs) and how the Phased Array Feed (PAF) receiver technology in CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope enabled this breakthrough science. Credit: CSIRO.

    More Information:
    ASKAP

    The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is the world’s fastest survey radio telescope. Designed and engineered by CSIRO, ASKAP is made up of 36 ‘dish’ antennas, spread across a 6km diameter, that work together as a single instrument called an interferometer. The key feature of ASKAP is its wide field of view, generated by its unique phased array feed (PAF) receivers. Together with specialised digital systems, the PAFs create 36 separate (simultaneous) beams on the sky which are mosaicked together into a large single image.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    ICRAR is an equal joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia with funding support from the State Government of Western Australia. The Centre’s headquarters are located at UWA, with research nodes at both UWA and the Curtin Institute for Radio Astronomy (CIRA).
    ICRAR has strong support from the government of Australia and is working closely with industry and the astronomy community, including CSIRO and the Australian Telescope National Facility, <a
    ICRAR is:

    Playing a key role in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, the world's biggest ground-based telescope array.

    Attracting some of the world’s leading researchers in radio astronomy, who will also contribute to national and international scientific and technical programs for SKA and ASKAP.
    Creating a collaborative environment for scientists and engineers to engage and work with industry to produce studies, prototypes and systems linked to the overall scientific success of the SKA, MWA and ASKAP.

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    A Small part of the Murchison Widefield Array

    Enhancing Australia’s position in the international SKA program by contributing to the development process for the SKA in scientific, technological and operational areas.
    Promoting scientific, technical, commercial and educational opportunities through public outreach, educational material, training students and collaborative developments with national and international educational organisations.
    Establishing and maintaining a pool of emerging and top-level scientists and technologists in the disciplines related to radio astronomy through appointments and training.
    Making world-class contributions to SKA science, with emphasis on the signature science themes associated with surveys for neutral hydrogen and variable (transient) radio sources.
    Making world-class contributions to SKA capability with respect to developments in the areas of Data Intensive Science and support for the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:06 pm on October 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, , , FRB's Fast radio Bursts   

    From CSIROscope: “The search for the source of a mysterious fast radio burst comes relatively close to home” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    31 October 2018
    Elizabeth Mahony

    1
    Antennas of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope first picked up the Fast Radio Burst. CSIRO/Alex Cherney, Author provided.

    Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are just that – enormous blasts of radio waves from space that only last for a fraction of a second. This makes pinpointing their source a huge challenge.

    Our team recently discovered 20 new FRBs using CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder in the Western Australian outback, almost doubling the known number of FRBs.

    In follow-up research, published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, we have taken one of these new detections – known as FRB 171020 (the day the radio waves arrived at Earth: October 20, 2017) – and narrowed down the location to a galaxy close to our own.

    This is the closest FRB detected (so far) but we still don’t know what causes these mysterious radio bursts that can contain more energy than our Sun produces in decades.

    Waves in space

    As radio waves travel through the universe they pass through other galaxies and our own Milky Way before arriving at our telescopes.

    The longer radio wavelengths are slowed down more than the shorter wavelengths, meaning that there is a slight delay in the arrival time of longer wavelengths.

    This difference in arrival times is called the dispersion measure and indicates the amount of matter the radio emission has travelled through.

    FRB 171020 has the lowest dispersion measure of any FRB detected to date, meaning that it hasn’t travelled from half way across the universe like most of the other FRBs detected so far. That means it originated from relatively nearby (by astronomical standards).By using models of the distribution of matter in the universe we can put a hard limit on how far the radio signal has travelled. For this particular FRB, we estimate that it could not have originated from further than a billion light years away, and likely occurred much closer. (Our Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light years across.)This distance limit, combined with the sky area we know the FRB came from (an area half a square degree – or roughly two full Moons across) enormously narrows down the search volume to look for the host galaxy.

    Closing in

    A region of the sky this size typically contains hundreds of galaxies. We used giant optical telescopes in Chile – including the appropriately named Very Large Telescope and Gemini South – to derive distances to these galaxies by either measuring their redshifts directly, or by using their optical colours to estimate their distance.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo


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

    This allowed us to drastically reduce the number of possible galaxies within the distance limit to just 16.

    By far the closest, and we believe most likely to host the FRB, is a nearby spiral galaxy called ESO 601-G036. This is 120 million light years away – making this FRB host almost our next door neighbour.

    3
    Optical image of the search area from the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS). The circles mark possible host galaxies for FRB 171020, but these are all much further away than the most likely galaxy ESO 601-G036, shown in the lower left as a three-colour image from the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) ATLAS survey. ESO, Digitized Sky Survey and VST-ATLAS, Author provided.

    Part of ESO’s Paranal Observatory, the VLT Survey Telescope (VISTA) observes the brilliantly clear skies above the Atacama Desert of Chile. It is the largest survey telescope in the world in visible light.
    Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    What is particularly striking about this galaxy is that it shares many similar features to the only galaxy known to produce FRBs: FRB 121102.

    This FRB is also known as the repeating FRB due to its – so far unique – property of producing multiple bursts. This helped astronomers locate it to a small galaxy about more than 3 billion light years away.

    ESO 601-G036 is similar in size, and forming new stars at about the same rate, as the host galaxy of the repeating FRB.

    But there is one intriguing feature of the repeating FRB that we don’t see in ESO 601-G036.

    Other emissions

    In addition to repeat bursts of radio emission, the repeating FRB emits lower energy radio emission continuously.

    Using CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) in Narrabri, NSW, we have searched for this persistent radio emission in ESO 601-G036. If it was anything like the repeater’s galaxy, it should have a boomingly bright radio source in it. We saw nothing.

    5
    The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) used in the follow-up observations. CSIRO, Author provided

    Not only did we find that ESO 601-G036 doesn’t have any persistent radio emission, but there are no other galaxies in our search volume that show similar properties to that seen in the repeating FRB.

    This points to the possibility that there are different types of fast radio bursts that may even have different origins.

    Finding the galaxies that FRBs originate from is a big step towards solving the mystery of what produces these extreme bursts. Most FRBs travel much further distances so finding one so close to Earth allows us to study the environments of FRBs in unprecedented detail.

    The hunt for more

    Unfortunately, we can’t say with absolute certainty that ESO 601-G036 is the galaxy that FRB 171020 came from.

    The next big hurdle in understanding what causes FRBs is to pinpoint more of them. If we can do that we’ll be able to work out not only exactly which galaxy an FRB occurred in, but even where within the galaxy it occurred.

    If FRBs occur within the central nuclei of galaxies, this could perhaps point to black holes as their source. Or do they prefer the outskirts of galaxies? Or regions where a lot of new stars have recently formed? There are still so many unknowns about FRBs.

    Several radio telescopes around the world are commissioning systems to pinpoint bursts. Our study has shown that by combining observations from radio and optical telescopes we’ll be able to paint a complete picture of FRB host galaxies, and be able to finally determine what causes these FRBs.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:58 pm on October 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASKAP is located at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, ASKAP telescopes to rule fast radio-burst hunt, , , , , , CSIRO acknowledges the Wajarri Yamaji as the traditional owners of the MRO site, FRB's Fast radio Bursts, ,   

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO: “CSIRO telescope almost doubles known number of mysterious ‘fast radio bursts'” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO

    Australian researchers using a CSIRO radio telescope in Western Australia have nearly doubled the known number of ‘fast radio bursts’— powerful flashes of radio waves from deep space.

    1
    Antennas of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope. Credit: CSIRO/Alex Cherney

    2
    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 University of Technology

    3
    (L-R) Lead author Dr Ryan Shannon (Swinburne/OzGrav), with co-authors Dr Keith Bannister (CSIRO) and Dr Jean-Pierre Macquart (Curtin/ICRAR). ©Inspireworks

    4
    Dishes of CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder in ‘fly’s-eye mode’ ©Kim Steel

    The team’s discoveries include the closest and brightest fast radio bursts ever detected.

    Their findings were reported today in the journal Nature .

    Fast radio bursts come from all over the sky and last for just milliseconds.

    Scientists don’t know what causes them but it must involve incredible energy—equivalent to the amount released by the Sun in 80 years.

    “We’ve found 20 fast radio bursts in a year, almost doubling the number detected worldwide since they were discovered in 2007,” lead author Dr Ryan Shannon, from Swinburne University of Technology and the OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence said.

    “Using the new technology of the Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), we’ve also proved that fast radio bursts are coming from the other side of the Universe rather than from our own galactic neighbourhood.”

    Co-author Dr Jean-Pierre Macquart, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), said bursts travel for billions of years and occasionally pass through clouds of gas.

    “Each time this happens, the different wavelengths that make up a burst are slowed by different amounts,” he said.

    “Eventually, the burst reaches Earth with its spread of wavelengths arriving at the telescope at slightly different times, like swimmers at a finish line.

    “Timing the arrival of the different wavelengths tells us how much material the burst has travelled through on its journey.

    “And because we’ve shown that fast radio bursts come from far away, we can use them to detect all the missing matter located in the space between galaxies—which is a really exciting discovery.”

    CSIRO’s Dr Keith Bannister, who engineered the systems that detected the bursts, said ASKAP’s phenomenal discovery rate is down to two things.

    “The telescope has a whopping field of view of 30 square degrees, 100 times larger than the full Moon,” he said.

    “And, by using the telescope’s dish antennas in a radical way, with each pointing at a different part of the sky, we observed 240 square degrees all at once—about a thousand times the area of the full Moon.

    “ASKAP is astoundingly good for this work.”

    Dr Shannon said we now know that fast radio bursts originate from about halfway across the Universe but we still don’t know what causes them or which galaxies they come from.

    The team’s next challenge is to pinpoint the locations of bursts on the sky.

    “We’ll be able to localise the bursts to better than a thousandth of a degree,” Dr Shannon said.

    “That’s about the width of a human hair seen 10 metres away, and good enough to tie each burst to a particular galaxy.”

    ASKAP is located at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, and is a precursor for the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

    The SKA could observe large numbers of fast radio bursts, giving astronomers a way to study the early Universe in detail.

    CSIRO acknowledges the Wajarri Yamaji as the traditional owners of the MRO site.

    See the full article here .


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    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:44 pm on October 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , FRB's Fast radio Bursts,   

    From AAS NOVA: “Featured Image: A CHIME Search for Fast Radio Bursts” 

    AASNOVA

    From AAS NOVA

    1
    The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, is a novel radio telescope originally intended to map features in hydrogen gas to measure dark energy. It has an additional mission now, however: CHIME will search the sky for signs of new fast radio bursts (FRBs). FRBs — energetic transient radio pulses that last only a few milliseconds — were first discovered about a decade ago, and though we’ve only observed ~30 of them so far, some estimates suggest they occur at a rate of several hundred to a few thousand per day across the sky! CHIME’s large field of view, high sensitivity, and wide bandwidth will help us hunt for these explosive events. In a new report by the CHIME/FRB collaboration, the team details this unique telescope, located in British Columbia. CHIME is made up of four 20-m x 100-m semicylindrical paraboloid reflectors, giving it its unusual appearance. The team expects that when CHIME begins science operations, it will detect FRBs at a rate of 2–42 FRBs per sky per day. For more information, check out the article below!

    Citation

    “The CHIME Fast Radio Burst Project: System Overview,” The CHIME/FRB Collaboration et al 2018 ApJ 863 48. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/aad188/meta

    Related journal articles
    _________________________________________________
    See the full article for further references with links.

    See the full article here .


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    1

    AAS Mission and Vision Statement

    The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe.

    The Society, through its publications, disseminates and archives the results of astronomical research. The Society also communicates and explains our understanding of the universe to the public.
    The Society facilitates and strengthens the interactions among members through professional meetings and other means. The Society supports member divisions representing specialized research and astronomical interests.
    The Society represents the goals of its community of members to the nation and the world. The Society also works with other scientific and educational societies to promote the advancement of science.
    The Society, through its members, trains, mentors and supports the next generation of astronomers. The Society supports and promotes increased participation of historically underrepresented groups in astronomy.
    The Society assists its members to develop their skills in the fields of education and public outreach at all levels. The Society promotes broad interest in astronomy, which enhances science literacy and leads many to careers in science and engineering.

    Adopted June 7, 2009

     
  • richardmitnick 6:53 pm on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , FRB's Fast radio Bursts, , , The notorious repeating fast radio source FRB 121102,   

    From Breakthrough Listen via Science Alert: “Astronomers Have Detected an Astonishing 72 New Mystery Radio Bursts From Space “ 

    From Breakthrough Listen Project

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    11 SEP 2018
    MICHELLE STARR

    A massive number of new signals have been discovered coming from the notorious repeating fast radio source FRB 121102 – and we can thank artificial intelligence for these findings.

    Researchers at the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) project Breakthrough Listen applied machine learning to comb through existing data, and found 72 fast radio bursts that had previously been missed.

    Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are among the most mysterious phenomena in the cosmos. They are extremely powerful, generating as much energy as hundreds of millions of Suns. But they are also extremely short, lasting just milliseconds; and most of them only occur once, without warning.

    This means they can’t be predicted; so it’s not like astronomers are able to plan observations. They are only picked up later in data from other radio observations of the sky.

    Except for one source. FRB 121102 is a special individual – because ever since its discovery in 2012, it has been caught bursting again and again, the only FRB source known to behave this way.

    Because we know FRB 121102 to be a repeating source of FRBs, this means we can try to catch it in the act. This is exactly what researchers at Breakthrough Listen did last year. On 26 August 2017, they pointed the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia at its location for five hours.

    In the 400 terabytes of data from that observation, the researchers discovered 21 FRBs using standard computer algorithms, all from within the first hour. They concluded that the source goes through periods of frenzied activity and quiescence.

    But the powerful new algorithm used to reanalyse that August 26 data suggests that FRB 121102 is a lot more active and possibly complex than originally thought. Researchers trained what is known as a convolutional neural network to look for the signals, then set it loose on the data like a truffle pig.

    It returned triumphant with 72 previously undetected signals, bringing the total number that astronomers have observed from the object to around 300.

    “This work is only the beginning of using these powerful methods to find radio transients,” said astronomer Gerry Zhang of the University of California Berkeley, which runs Breakthrough Listen.

    “We hope our success may inspire other serious endeavours in applying machine learning to radio astronomy.”

    The new result has helped us learn a little more about FRB 121102, putting constraints on the periodicity of the bursts. It suggests that, the researchers said, there’s no pattern to the way we receive them – unless the pattern is shorter than 10 milliseconds.

    See the full article here .

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    Listen

    Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale:

    The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.

    The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    UCSC Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    The radio surveys cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programs. They also cover at least 5 times more of the radio spectrum – and do it 100 times faster. They are sensitive enough to hear a common aircraft radar transmitting to us from any of the 1000 nearest stars.

    We are also carrying out the deepest and broadest ever search for optical laser transmissions. These spectroscopic searches are 1000 times more effective at finding laser signals than ordinary visible light surveys. They could detect a 100 watt laser (the energy of a normal household bulb) from 25 trillion miles away.

    Listen combines these instruments with innovative software and data analysis techniques.

    The initiative will span 10 years and commit a total of $100,000,000.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:21 am on June 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , FRB's Fast radio Bursts, Galactic and Extragalactic Magnetic Fields   

    From astrobites: “Extragalactic Magnetic Fields: Uncovering Their Origin Story” 

    Astrobites bloc

    From astrobites

    June 1, 2018
    Joshua Kerrigan

    Title: Probing the origin of extragalactic magnetic fields with Fast Radio Bursts
    Authors: F. Vazza, M. Brüggen , P.M. Hinz, D. Wittor, N. Locatelli, and C. Gheller
    First Author’s Institution: Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Universita ́ di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
    1
    Status: Submitted to MNRAS, open access

    What do Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), polarization, and extragalactic magnetic fields on massive scales have in relation to each other? Well to cut to the chase, by combining the polarization of FRB signals we can potentially determine the origin of extragalactic magnetic fields. This could be made possible – in simulation as of now – by some special characteristics of FRBs that wouldn’t necessarily be offered by more steady state radio sources. So welcome to today’s astrobite, where we’ll take some time to learn about how we can uncover the origin story of extragalactic magnetic fields.

    FRB Fast Radio Bursts from NAOJ Subaru, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    3
    Galactic and Extragalactic Magnetic Fields, Rainer Beck, U Mainz

    See the full article here .


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    What do we do?

    Astrobites is a daily astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy. Our goal is to present one interesting paper per day in a brief format that is accessible to undergraduate students in the physical sciences who are interested in active research.
    Why read Astrobites?

    Reading a technical paper from an unfamiliar subfield is intimidating. It may not be obvious how the techniques used by the researchers really work or what role the new research plays in answering the bigger questions motivating that field, not to mention the obscure jargon! For most people, it takes years for scientific papers to become meaningful.
    Our goal is to solve this problem, one paper at a time. In 5 minutes a day reading Astrobites, you should not only learn about one interesting piece of current work, but also get a peek at the broader picture of research in a new area of astronomy.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:42 pm on January 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , FRB's Fast radio Bursts, FRB121102,   

    From Arecibo: “Astronomers peer into the lair of a mysterious source of cosmic radio bursts” 

    Arecibo

    1.10.18

    Technical Contact
    Dr. Andrew Seymour
    Universities Space Research Association
    Arecibo Observatory
    aseymour@usra.edu

    Arecibo Media Contact
    Ricardo Correa
    Universidad Metropolitana (UMET)
    787-878-2612 ext. 615
    rcorrea@naic.edu

    1

    Using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, a team from Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and other institutions today announced today at the American Astronomical Society’s winterAAS meeting that mysterious bursts of radio emission, called Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), may be coming from near a giant black hole.



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    2
    Scientist Andrew Seymour was co-author of the newly released results of FRB 121102.

    Fast Radio Bursts are a strong and very short flash of radio waves first identified in 2007 using archival data obtained in 2001. Interestingly, most of the bursts have not been observed again, with the exception of one. “FRB121102 was found to repeat and is the only known FRB source to do so”, noted Dr. Andrew Seymour, an Astronomer with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) at Arecibo Observatory. “Even then, no pattern to the bursts have been identified, unlike with other radio phenomena, such as pulsars”, continued Dr. Seymour.

    Though how FRBs are produced remains a mystery, astronomers last year confirmed that at least one of the bursts, FRB121102, which was first discovered at the Arecibo Observatory, originated from beyond our galaxy at a distance of 3 billion light years from Earth. “Over 100 million times the energy produced by the sun in an entire day would be needed to power a burst reaching the Earth from this distance that only lasted a few seconds”, noted Dr. Robert Minchin, Astronomer with USRA and group lead for Radio Astronomy at Arecibo Observatory.

    “Over 100 million times the energy produced by the sun in an entire day would be needed to power a burst reaching the Earth from this distance that only lasted a few seconds” – Dr. Robert Minchin

    Using new observations at higher frequencies, the team has now discovered the bursts from FRB121102 may be coming from an extreme environment, like near a giant black hole. “We developed a new observing setup at the Arecibo Observatory to do this, and our colleagues at the Green Bank Telescope confirmed the results with observations at even higher radio frequencies,” said Dr. Seymour. “What’s more, one of the bursts we detected lasted less than 30 microseconds. Such a short duration argues that the bursts originated from a neutron star in an extreme environment of magnetized plasma”, he added.

    “We developed a new observing setup at the Arecibo Observatory to do this, and our colleagues at the Green Bank Telescope confirmed the results with observations at even higher radio frequencies,” – Dr. Andrew Seymour

    These higher frequency observations allowed the astronomers to study the polarization of the radio waves, and they discovered that they were being “twisted” by a very strong magnetic field in a process known as Faraday rotation. One explanation for this is that FRB121102 is close to a massive black hole in its own host galaxy, an environment similar to that seen in the center of our own Galaxy, or in another extreme environment such as a powerful nebula or a supernova remnant.

    Because FRB121102 is the is the only known repeating FRB, many have speculated that it might have a different origin from the non-repeating FRBs. “FRB 121102 was already unique because of its repetition; now the huge Faraday rotation we have observed singles it out yet again. We’re curious as to whether these two unique aspects are linked,” said Daniele Michilli, PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam, and discoverer of the polarization of FRB121102.

    “This discovery demonstrates the power of the Arecibo and Green Bank telescopes, and why they remain vital parts of the U.S. astronomical portfolio” – Dr. Joan Schmelz

    “This discovery demonstrates the power of the Arecibo and Green Bank telescopes, and why they remain vital parts of the U.S. astronomical portfolio”, said Dr. Joan Schmelz, USRA Director and Deputy Director of Arecibo Observatory. “We look forward to continuing to work with the FRB team as they monitor this source in the future”, continued Dr. Schmelz. This ongoing monitoring will distinguish between the two leading hypotheses – either a neutron star near a black hole, or one embedded in a powerful nebula – or possibly other, more exotic interpretations, by monitoring how the “twisting” and other properties of the bursts change with time.

    See the full article here .

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    NAIC/Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, USA, at 497 m (1,631 ft)

    The Arecibo Observatory is a radio telescope in the municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. This observatory is operated by SRI International, USRA and UMET, under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The observatory is the sole facility of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), which refers to the observatory, and the staff that operates it. From its construction in the 1960s until 2011, the observatory was managed by Cornell University.

    The observatory’s 1,000-foot (305-meter) radio telescope was the largest single-aperture telescope from its completion in 1963 until July 2016 when the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China was completed. It is used in three major areas of research: radio astronomy, atmospheric science, and radar astronomy. Scientists who want to use the observatory submit proposals that are evaluated by an independent scientific board.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:42 am on January 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Do fast radio bursts emit high-energy neutrinos?, FRB's Fast radio Bursts, ,   

    From IceCube: “Do fast radio bursts emit high-energy neutrinos?” 

    icecube
    U Wisconsin IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory

    ICECUBE neutrino detector

    19 Dec 2017
    Sílvia Bravo

    Maybe, but not many, according to IceCube.

    Although fast radio bursts’ (FRBs) progenitors are supposed to be compact and perhaps catastrophic cosmic events that may also produce neutrinos, IceCube has not detected any such neutrinos that could be associated with a known FRB in six years of data. These results are far from precluding the eventual detection of neutrinos from FRBs in the future, but they have set the best limits yet on how many are emitted. The results have been submitted today to The Astrophysical Journal.

    1
    The most signal-like event in both northern searches was detected 200.806 s after the radio detection of FRB 121102 b3. The directional reconstruction of this event has an angular separation ∆Ψ= 2.31◦ with the FRB and an estimated error σ= 1.31◦. Event reconstruction contours are drawn for confidence intervals of 50%, 90%, and 99%, taking the reconstruction as a radially symmetric 2-D Gaussian. FRB directional uncertainty (<<1◦) is taken into account in this analysis, but not shown for this scale. The post-trial p-value for this max-burst search is p=0.25. Image: IceCube Collaboration.

    A fast radio burst consists of bright radio emission, usually only a few milliseconds long, that may be the result of the collision of a neutron star with a black hole or of another extreme astrophysical event. Discovered in 2007, they were initially thought to be produced by a cataclysmic event that would destroy its source. However, ten years after their discovery, at least one of the sources has produced repeated radio bursts over 100 times. According to Justin Vandenbroucke, an assistant professor of physics at UW–Madison and a corresponding author of this work, “fast radio bursts are a mysterious new class of astrophysical transients—we don’t know what’s producing them.”

    Between May 2010 and May 2016, radio astronomers detected 29 FRBs across the whole sky from a total of 13 directions–17 of them were bursts from FRB 121101, the only source to date that has been found to repeat. IceCube’s gigantic size, a cubic kilometer of instrumented ice, provides omnidirectional detection capabilities that enable a continuous scan of both the northern and southern sky. In these six years of data, a few neutrinos were detected near the locations of some FRBs, but scientists have shown that their arrival times and overall distribution can be explained with background neutrino emission from other sources.

    “This is only the beginning of a long quest,” says Donglian Xu, a postdoctoral researcher at UW–Madison and also a corresponding author of this paper.

    FRBs are one of the hottest topics in astrophysics. In the near future, brand new radio observatories may discover over a thousand FRBs every year. And that’s why scientists around the world are honing their analysis skills to use signals from multiple messengers to learn about the origins of these fast, whether one-time or intermittent, radio bursts.

    In IceCube, this search for neutrino emission from FRBs used data samples optimized for searches of neutrinos from gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) with energies between 0.1 TeV and several PeV. IceCube scientists are already working on a more sensitive selection that will include all neutrino flavors and lower the energy threshold. Samuel Fahey, a graduate student at UW–Madison, is one of those scientists. “We’re working on using every tool at IceCube’s disposal—this analysis was just one piece of the puzzle.”

    Very little is known about the sources of FRBs. Their distribution across the sky, as well as indirect evidence of their distance, suggests an extragalactic origin. Yet only one FRB is proven to be extragalactic. Galactic neutron stars or other sources might also produce radio bursts. If this happens, IceCube might detect a sudden increase in the background Cherenkov light due to MeV-scale neutrinos.

    3
    A 2-dimensional plot shows the ratio of the effective areas of IceCube to ANTARES over energy and declination, with a bin-width of 0.1 in sin(δ) and bin-height equal to one quarter of a decade in energy. Where ANTARES provides a non-zero effective area, but IceCube’s is equal to zero for this event selection, the ratio plotted is the scale minimum; likewise, where the converse is true, the ratio plotted is the scale maximum. Image: IceCube Collaboration.

    The most powerful searches can benefit from the collaboration of two telescopes, as is often the case in neutrino astronomy. ANTARES, a smaller neutrino telescope in the Mediterranean Sea, has better sensitivity in the Southern Hemisphere for energies below 50 TeV.

    4
    CNRS ANTERES

    In a joint search for FRBs, IceCube and ANTARES could provide the best sensitivity across the full sky.

    The good news is that, one way or another, neutrinos are ready to roll in the quest for FRBs.

    See the full article here .

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    STEM Icon

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    IceCube is a particle detector at the South Pole that records the interactions of a nearly massless sub-atomic particle called the neutrino. IceCube searches for neutrinos from the most violent astrophysical sources: events like exploding stars, gamma ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena involving black holes and neutron stars. The IceCube telescope is a powerful tool to search for dark matter, and could reveal the new physical processes associated with the enigmatic origin of the highest energy particles in nature. In addition, exploring the background of neutrinos produced in the atmosphere, IceCube studies the neutrinos themselves; their energies far exceed those produced by accelerator beams. IceCube is the world’s largest neutrino detector, encompassing a cubic kilometer of ice.

     
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