Astronomers braced for a revolution in fast radio burst localizations

This article was first published in Physics World Magazine

Radio astronomers across the world are bracing themselves for a transformation in their ability to localize fast radio bursts (FRBs). Before the end of the year, upgrades to a suite of FRB-hunting telescopes are expected to increase the localization rate of FRBs to their host galaxies by more than an order of magnitude – potentially revolutionizing our understanding of the universe.

Eye on the sky: the Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder in Western Australia has been localising fast radio bursts with sub-arcsecond accuracy since 2017 (Courtesy: CSIRO)

First discovered in 2007, FRBs are intense bursts of radio waves lasting less than a few milliseconds. They come in two main types: either from sources that repeat or those that do not. But of the 1000 or so FRBs to have been detected, only around 3% have been shown to repeat.

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