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13th of March 2018
Breakthrough Listen detection of a Fast Radio Burst
The Breakthrough Listen team recently reported the discovery of a Fast Radio Burst (FRB) during a Parkes observing run. The burst was detected 2018 March 1 with the Parkes 21-cm multibeam receiver. The FRB was detected in beam 03 of the 13-beam receiver only, with a signal-to-noise ratio of ~16, peak flux density of ~0.5 Jy, and burst width of ~3 ms, while observing over ~340 MHz of bandwidth centered around 1382 MHz. The spectrum appears to be positive, i.e. brighter at higher frequencies.

Due to the passage of radio waves through the ionized inter-stellar, and intergalactic, matter, lower frequencies arrive fractionally later than higher frequencies. This delay is characterised by the a property called the dispersion measure (DM). For this burst a DM of ~520 pc cm^-2 was measured. As the expected contribution from our Galaxy along the line of sight to be FRB is between ~150 pc cm^-2 and ~235 pc cm^-2, the higher DM supports an extragalctic origin for the FRB (consistent with all other FRBs detected to date), with an estimated redshift of ~0.2, corresponding to a distance of approximately 820 Mpc (or 2.7 billion light years).

The burst, FRB 180301, was detected during the Breakthrough Listen Galactic plane survey, using the Parkes HI-Pulsar digital system and also with the Breakthrough Listen digital backend using an independent search technique. After detection, calibration routines were run and follow-up observations continued for approximately 2 hours; no further bursts were found.

More details are given in the Astronomer's Telegram reporting the discovery, and the Breakthrough Listen blog describing the event.

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