The two CHORD telescopes are tiny compared to the larger synthesis telescopes (right) and CHIME (left) radio telescopes they will eventually assist and replace at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory. 512 of the new telescopes will be built at the observatory to help better probe the secrets of the universe. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

CHIME finds four days of noise, twelve days of silence from space

The radio telescope picked up the first recorded pattern in radio signals from space

  • Feb. 16, 2020 1:15 p.m.

Four days of noise. Twelve days of silence. Repeat.

That is the pattern picked up by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) in Kaleden, outlined in a paper submitted to the science journal Nature.

Every 16.35 days, plus or minus about four hours, a fast radio burst from space was picked up by the observatory. That signal would continue for four days, and then fall silent for another twelve.

Then, once again, the noise returned, over and over again for more than 400 days.

READ MORE: Learn how a radio telescope in the South Okanagan may unlock mysteries of space

This pattern, according to the paper, is unlikely to be a chance coincidence with odds of 1 in 100 quadrillion, worse than the odds for roll snake eyes ten times in a row.

Up until now, every other radio burst recorded did not have an identifiable pattern, no matter how short or long a period they were observed over.

According to the paper, multiple different methods of analyzing the data from the 409-day sample yielded the same identifiable pattern. The sources of these bursts are still subject to speculation.

READ MORE: POLL: Are we alone in space?

These particular signals are coming from a distant, super-massive galaxy, close to 150 megaparsecs away. In the paper, it’s described as a solar nursery, where stars are still being formed, over 500 million light-years from Earth.

That means those radio waves have been travelling for 500 million years to reach us.

Due to an embargo, until their paper is finished being peer-reviewed and officially published, members of the CHIME team are unable to speak to the press.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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