https://phys.org/news/2020-06-astronomers-regular-rhythm-radio-unknown.html Astronomers detect regular rhythm of radio waves, with origins unknown: A team of astronomers, including researchers at MIT, has picked up on a curious, repeating rhythm of fast radio bursts emanating from an unknown source outside our galaxy, 500 million light years away. Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are short, intense flashes of radio waves that are thought to be the product of small, distant, extremely dense objects, though exactly what those objects might be is a longstanding mystery in astrophysics. FRBs typically last a few milliseconds, during which time they can outshine entire galaxies. Since the first FRB was observed in 2007, astronomers have cataloged over 100 fast radio bursts from distant sources scattered across the universe, outside our own galaxy. For the most part, these detections were one-offs, flashing briefly before disappearing entirely. In a handful of instances, astronomers observed fast radio bursts multiple times from the same source, though with no discernible pattern. This new FRB source, which the team has cataloged as FRB 180916.J0158+65, is the first to produce a periodic, or cyclical pattern of fast radio bursts. The pattern begins with a noisy, four-day window, during which the source emits random bursts of radio waves, followed by a 12-day period of radio silence. The astronomers observed that this 16-day pattern of fast radio bursts reoccurred consistently over 500 days of observations. "This FRB we're reporting now is like clockwork," says Kiyoshi Masui, assistant professor of physics in MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. "It's the most definitive pattern we've seen from one of these sources. And it's a big clue that we can use to start hunting down the physics of what's causing these bright flashes, which nobody really understands." Masui is a member of the CHIME/FRB collaboration, a group of more than 50 scientists led by the University of British Columbia, McGill University, University of Toronto, and the National Research Council of Canada, that operates and analyzes the data from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, a radio telescope in British Columbia that was the first to pick up signals of the new periodic FRB source. The CHIME/FRB Collaboration has published the details of the new observation today in the journal Nature. more at link....................... the paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2398-2 Periodic activity from a fast radio burst source: Abstract: Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright, millisecond-duration radio transients originating from sources at extragalactic distances1, the origin of which is unknown. Some FRB sources emit repeat bursts, ruling out cataclysmic origins for those events2,3,4. Despite searches for periodicity in repeat burst arrival times on timescales from milliseconds to many days2,5,6,7, these bursts have hitherto been observed to appear sporadically and—although clustered8—without a regular pattern. Here we report observations of a 16.35 ± 0.15 day periodicity (or possibly a higher-frequency alias of that periodicity) from the repeating FRB 180916.J0158+65 detected by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project4,9. In 38 bursts recorded from 16 September 2018 to 4 February 2020 UTC, we find that all bursts arrive in a five-day phase window, and 50 per cent of the bursts arrive in a 0.6-day phase window. Our results suggest a mechanism for periodic modulation either of the burst emission itself or through external amplification or absorption, and disfavour models invoking purely sporadic processes.