In 2007 Astronomers discovered a very bright burst of radio emission which lasted just a few milliseconds which originated far outside of our own galaxy. The extreme brightness and the very short duration indicate that the source must be highly energetic and mostly likely associated with a black hole or neutron star. Another possibility is that they are caused by some cataclysmic event, like the collapse of a neutron star to form a black hole or the merger of two neutron stars. As these bursts travel great distances through space they are potentially great probes of the material and space between us and their origin helping us to understand more about the missing mass and energy in the Universe. There are now more than 50 of these bursts known and the race is on to find many more with new and existing telescopes around the world. I will discuss some of the history of FRBs, our current understanding, and look forward to the future, including possibilities for the Square Kilometre Array.
This is a public lecture by Professor Ben Stappers from the University of Manhester. Professor Stappers is a world-leading radio astronomer, leader of the pulsar research group at Manchester, and a major contributor to the development of the Square Kilometre Array, which will be the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope.
Jingchuan Yu / Beijing Planetarium.