Surprising link discovered between fast radio bursts and earthquakes

This article was first published in Physics World Magazine

Researchers in Japan have found striking similarities between the statistical behaviour of repeating fast radio bursts (FRBs) and earthquakes.

FRBs are brief, intense bursts of radio waves from outside our galaxy. Whilst these bursts typically last a few milliseconds, astronomers have also found bursts a thousand times shorter.

Common trends: researchers at the University of Tokyo have used data taken by telescopes such as the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico (pictured here in 2019) to uncover similarities between fast radio bursts and earthquakes (Courtesy: UCF)

FRBs are broadly split into two categories: repeating FRB sources and “one-off” FRBs, which have not yet repeated. Whether all FRB sources repeat remains an open question.

In their study, astrophysicists Tomonori Totani and Yuya Tsuzuki from the University of Tokyo used a dataset of 7000 bursts from three repeating sources. The data was taken by radio astronomers using the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico and Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope in south-west China.

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