live broadcast sound collage

Fast Radio Bursts - Update

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are extremely brief and highly energetic cosmological radio transients. Lasting mere milliseconds and observable only through radio telescopes, fast radio burst signals are neither highly regular nor totally random. The first FRB was detected in 2007, and since then around two dozen have been detected.

The origins of fast radio bursts are as yet unclear, though the signals have been determined to originate from galaxies over 3 billion light years away.

Only one fast radio burst, FRB 121102, had ever been documented originating from the same location. On 09.26.2017, Special Collections featured the sounds of FRB 121102.

Then came some really big news. The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, Canada’s first radio telescope project in 30 years, began operation in the fall of 2018. Before it had even left the testing phase, CHIME detected 13 new fast radio bursts, including another repeating signal, FRB 180814. As opposed to other radio telescopes, CHIME has no moving parts and its lateral collecting area and extremely wide field-of-view make it ideal for FRB investigation.

Special Collections celebrates this remarkable discovery with another take on the sounds of fast radio bursts. Since the longest FRB lasts only 5 milliseconds, the audio of these bursts is presented at original speed as well as various stages of deceleration.


Broadcast date: January 22th 2019
KCHUNG Los Angeles 1630AM

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS is a broadcast project by Sam Rowell.
Each edition is mixed live on the air.