Why a dig­i­tal tele­scope with no mov­ing parts might be the in­stru­ment that de­tects the most FRBs – even though that’s not what it’s de­signed to do

Sky at Night Magazine - - FAST RADIO BURSTS -

The up­com­ing Cana­dian Hy­dro­gen In­ten­sity Map­ping Ex­per­i­ment (CHIME) in Pen­tic­ton, Bri­tish Columbia, will be a dis­cov­ery ma­chine for fast ra­dio bursts. CHIME, run by four Cana­dian in­sti­tutes, is an all-sky ob­ser­va­tory, de­signed to map the dis­tri­bu­tion of neu­tral hy­dro­gen in the early Uni­verse, so its main goal is cos­mol­ogy. But given its ex­tremely large field of view, it is ex­pected to de­tect dozens of rel­a­tively bright fast ra­dio bursts per day.

The ‘dig­i­tal tele­scope’ has no mov­ing parts at all. It con­sists of four cylin­dri­cal ‘half-pipes’, ori­ented north to south, and mea­sur­ing 20x100m. The tele­scope’s ori­en­ta­tion with re­spect to the sky changes as a re­sult of Earth’s ro­ta­tion, which makes it pos­si­ble to use in­ter­fer­om­e­try to cre­ate de­tailed hy­dro­gen maps. Ac­cord­ing to ra­dio as­tronomer Vicky Kaspi of McGill Univer­sity in Mon­treal, CHIME could be an ex­cel­lent FRB de­tec­tor, de­spite ob­serv­ing at lower fre­quen­cies than Parkes, Arecibo or the Very Large Ar­ray.

CHIME con­sists of four mas­sive metal half­pipes – each is 20m wide and 100m long

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