Chinese scientists detect a fast radio burst that defies the theories

The uncertainty of science: Using their large FAST radio telescope, Chinese scientists revealed this week that they have detected a new fast radio burst (FRB) whose behavior and location does not fit the present tentative theories for explaining these mysterious deep space objects.

The FRB was an exception from the beginning as it flared again and again in observations recorded by the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), which nestles among the hills of China’s Guizhou province. The multiple flares put the source among the few percent of FRBs that repeat. But unlike most repeaters, this one doesn’t have any apparent cycle of bursting and quiescence.

“FRB 20190520B is the only persistently repeating fast radio burst known so far, meaning that it has not been seen to turn off,” Li says.

In addition, whatever made the FRB is also emitting a constant buzz of radio waves. Astronomers have found an association with a persistent radio source in only two other FRBs, and for one of these the low-level radio waves seem to come from ongoing star formation in the host galaxy. For FRB 20190520B, though, the radio source is far more compact, and Li’s team thinks the radio waves probably come from the FRB source itself.

The data also suggests the location does not fit the theories, and even suggests that FRBs might not all come from magnetars, as presently proposed.

China to open FAST radio telescope to world

China has decided to allow astronomers worldwide to apply for time on its new FAST radio telescope, the largest such telescope in the world.

Since testing began in 2016, only Chinese scientists have been able to lead projects studying the telescope’s preliminary data. But now, observation time will be accessible to researchers from around the world, says Zhiqiang Shen, director of the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory and co-chair of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ FAST supervisory committee.

Obviously U.S. astronomers are going to want to use this telescope. I wonder if there will be security issues. I suspect that if they only request time and then make observations, there will be no problems. However, if they need to do anything that will require the use of U.S. technology, in China, then they may find themselves violating the U.S. law that forbids any technology transfer to China.

China’s FAST radio telescope discovers 93 new pulsars

The research team running China’s FAST radio telescope, the largest single dish such telescope in the world, have announced that they have discovered 93 new pulsars since October 2017.

China might still be having trouble finding a big name astronomer to run the telescope, but in the meantime it looks like their own people are taking advantage of the situation to use the telescope establish their own names.

First discoveries from China’s FAST radio telescope

Astronomers using China’s new FAST radio telescope have announced its first discoveries, the identification of two pulsars,

The new pulsars PSR J1859-01 and PSR J1931-02, also referred to as FAST pulsar #1 and #2 (FP1 and FP2), were detected on August 22 and 25, and were confirmed by the Parkes telescope in Australia on September 10. “FP1 is a pulsar with a spin period of 1.83 second and an estimated distance of 16 thousand light-years, and FP2, is a pulsar with a spin period of 0.59 second and an estimated distance of 4,100 light years,” said Li Di, Deputy Chief Engineer of FAST Project at the National Astronomical Observatories (NAOC), on Tuesday.

FAST’s gigantic size will allow it to pinpoint many similar astronomical objects previously beyond the resolution of radio telescopes.

Note that there is still no word on whether China has found a scientist to head FAST operations.

China has a giant radio telescope and no one to run it

China’s effort to become a major player in the astronomy and space exploration field has run up against a strange problem.

China has built a staggeringly large instrument in the remote southern, mountainous region of the country called the Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST. The telescope measures nearly twice as large as the closest comparable facility in the world, the US-operated Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. Radio telescopes use a large, parabolic dish to collect radio waves from distant sources, such as pulsars and black holes—or even alien civilizations.

According to the South China Morning Post, the country is looking for a foreigner to run the observatory because no Chinese astronomer has the experience of running a facility of such size and complexity. The Chinese Academy of Sciences began advertising the position in western journals and job postings in May, but so far there have been no qualified applicants.

Part of the problem here is that it appears the telescope was built by order of the Chinese government, not Chinese astronomers. It would have been better for China to have built something its own astronomers were qualified to run. Instead, they built something to impress the world, and now can’t find a way to use it.

China’s giant single dish radio telescope FAST nears completion

The new colonial movement: The completion of FAST, the world’s largest single dish radio telescope in China, nears completion.

The article over emphasizes one of the telescope’s minor research projects, the search for alien life. However, it also provides a good overview of the telescope’s status. The main dish is finished, and they are presently building the instruments that will use that dish to do astronomical research.