Two astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) said late last week (September 21, 2017) that they’ve now have estimated how many fast radio bursts, or FRBs, should be occurring over the entire observable universe.
Their work indicates that at least one FRB is going off somewhere every second, and, therefore, it seems to contradict an earlier, more speculative study from CfA that fast radio bursts might be evidence of advanced alien technology. First detected in 2001, fast radio bursts are very mysterious. Astronomers have detected several dozen FRBs in the sky, but they still don’t know what causes these rapid and powerful bursts of radio emission.
Anastasia Fialkov and Avi Loeb of CfA are theoretical astrophysicists. They work with the laws of physics and powerful computers to understand the observations of astronomers. To make their estimate of the number of FRBs firing across the observable universe, Fialkov and Loeb assumed that FRB 121102, a fast radio burst located in a galaxy about 3 billion light-years away, is representative of all FRBs.
FRB 121102 has produced repeated bursts since its discovery in 2002. Armed with the observational evidence from this FRB, Fialkov and Loeb were able to use the tools of astrophysical theory to project how many FRBs might be firing across the entire sky.