China has spent five years and nearly 200 million dollars on the construction of its five-meter spherical telescope, dubbed FAST. It was a monumental undertaking, but the result is a marvel of technology, it is the largest full-length radio telescope on the planet. Now, as China is ready for a final review of the completed project later this month, scientists say they have already used the telescope to detect a notoriously strange radio signal radiating into space.
From time to time, radio telescopes on Earth detect powerful signals from unknown sources. These fast radio bursts (abbreviated to FRB) are often singular flashes, but a few of them have been observed repeating themselves at seemingly random intervals. A particular signal, known as FRB 121102, is reputed to have appeared again and again, and China's all-new brilliant telescope heard it loud and clear .
Nobody really knows what creates the FRB, and that's part of what makes them so exciting for scientists. The fact that most of them are punctual, but that others, like the FRB 121102, repeats itself, makes the process that animates them even more mysterious.
"Once this review is done, FAST becomes an accepted telescope for exploration of the universe. Jiang Peng, chief engineer of FAST, said in a statement. "Fast is open to Chinese astronomers since April 2019. After the acceptance of national construction, astronomers from around the world will be open. "
The scientific team using FAST detected signals indicative of FRB 121102 on the August 29, hearing "more than a few dozens of bursts" of the signal. This particular event was particularly significant because no other telescope on Earth had ever detected so many repetitions of the signal in such a short time, which suggests that the incredible power of the new Chinese telescope could help unlock the secrets of the signal.
FAST will have full hands, researchers hoping to use it in ongoing research of remote pulsars, elements such as hydrogen, and of course additional Fast Radio Bursts radios.
This article appeared first (in English) on BGR