Why in News:
- Scientists with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Collaboration, who include researchers at the Pune-based Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), have assembled the largest collection of fast radio bursts (FRBs) in the telescope’s first FRB catalogue.
- The CHIME project is co-led by the University of British Columbia, McGill University, University of Toronto, and the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory with collaborating institutions across North America.
What are Fast Radio bursts?
- FRBs are oddly bright flashes of light, registering in the radio band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which blaze for a few milliseconds before vanishing without a trace.
- These brief and mysterious beacons have been spotted in various and distant parts of the universe, as well as in our own galaxy.
- Their origins are unknown and their appearance is highly unpredictable.
What is CHIME telescope?
- It is a large stationary radio telescope in British Columbia, Canada.
- A radio telescope is a specialized antenna and radio receiver used to detect radio waves from astronomical radio sources in the sky.
- CHIME comprises four massive cylindrical radio antennas.
- While most radio astronomy is done by swivelling a large dish to focus light from different parts of the sky, CHIME is a novel radio telescope that has no moving parts, motionless, at the sky, and focuses incoming signals using a correlator — a powerful digital signal processor that can work through huge amounts of data
Significance of CHIME
- While catching sight of an FRB is considered a rare thing in the field of radio astronomy, prior to the CHIME project, radio astronomers had only caught sight of around 140 bursts in their scopes since the first FRB was spotted in 2007.
- But the advent of the CHIME project has been a game-changer and has nearly quadrupled the number of fast radio bursts discovered to date. With more observations, astronomers hope soon to pin down the extreme origins of these curiously bright signals.
- The scientists plan to use the bursts, and their dispersion estimates, to map the distribution of gas throughout the universe.