Daily News Analysis

CHIME telescope

11th June, 2021 Science and Technology

GS PAPER III: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Context: Scientists with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Collaboration, who include researchers at the Pune-based Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), have assembled the largest collection of fast radio bursts (FRBs) in the telescope’s first FRB catalogue.

Fast radio bursts

  • FRB is considered a rare thing in the field of radio astronomy.
  • Prior to the CHIME project, radio astronomers had only caught sight of around 140 bursts in their scopes since the first FRB was spotted in 2007.
  • FRBs are oddly bright flashes of light, registering in the radio band of the electromagnetic spectrum, which blaze for a few milliseconds before vanishing without a trace.
  • These brief and mysterious beacons have been spotted in various and distant parts of the universe, as well as in our own galaxy.
  • Their origins are unknown and their appearance is highly unpredictable.

CHIME project

  • It is a large stationary radio telescope in British Columbia, Canada.
  • It has been a game-changer and has nearly quadrupled the number of fast radio bursts discovered to date.
  • With more observations, astronomers hope soon to pin down the extreme origins of these curiously bright signals.
  • The telescope has detected a whopping 535 new fast radio bursts in its first year of operation itself, between 2018 and 2019.
  • Before CHIME, different telescopes had observed a handful of FRBs each, but with their own selection criteria and software.
  • But now, with the help of CHIME, one can observe a large swathe of the sky round the clock and were able to detect FRBs at an unprecedented rate.
  • Scientists have identified 18 FRB sources that burst repeatedly, while the rest appear to be one-offs.
  • From the FRBs that CHIME was able to detect, the scientists calculated that bright fast radio bursts occur at a rate of about 800 per day across the entire sky — the most precise estimate of FRBs overall rate to date.
  • CHIME comprises four massive cylindrical radio antennas, roughly the size and shape of snowboarding half-pipes, located at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, operated by the National Research Council of Canada in British Columbia.
  • The telescope receives radio signals each day from half of the sky as the Earth rotates.
  • While most radio astronomy is done by swivelling a large dish to focus light from different parts of the sky, CHIME stares, motionless, at the sky, and focuses incoming signals using a correlator — a powerful digital signal processor that can work through huge amounts of data, at a rate of about seven terrabytes per second, equivalent to a few per cent of the world’s Internet traffic.
  • Digital signal processing makes CHIME able to reconstruct and ‘look’ in thousands of directions simultaneously.
  • As the telescope detects more FRBs, scientists hope to pin down exactly what kind of exotic phenomena could generate such ultra bright, ultra fast signals.

https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/chime-telescope-yields-unprecedented-results/article34782271.ece?homepage=true