China spent five years and nearly $ 200 million to build its five-hundred-meter-wide spherical telescope called FAST. It was a monumental endeavor, but the result is a true marvel of technology, and it is the largest complete radio telescope on Earth. As China prepares for a final review of the completed project later this month, scientists say they have already used the telescope to find a notoriously strange radio signal emitted in space.
Every now and then, radio telescopes on Earth detect powerful signals from unknown sources. These fast radio bursts (FRBs for short) are often single flashes, but some are observed, repeating at seemingly random intervals. One particular signal, known as FRB 1
Nobody really knows what FRB creates, and that's part of what makes them so exciting to scientists, the fact that most of them are one-off shoots, but that others like FRB 121102 keep repeating, makes the process that makes them even more mysterious.
"After passing this review, FAST becomes a telescope for the study of the universe," Jiang Peng, FAST chief engineer, said in a statement. will be open to astronomers around the world. "
The FAST science team detected alarm signals on FRB 121102 on August 29, hearing" more than a few dozen bursts "of the signal. This particular event was especially important because no one else Earth's telescope has never found so much But repetitions of the signal in such a short period of time suggest that the incredible power of the new telescope in China could help unlock the secrets of the signal.
Next, FAST will have its hands full, with researchers hoping to use it in the continued search for distant pulsars, elements such as hydrogen and, of course, additional rapid radio bursts.