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18th of May 2018
ASKAP spots a Crab giant burst
by Keith Bannister
Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are millsecond-duration bursts of radio waves that come from outer space. Astronomers have known about them since 2007, but much about FRBs remains a mystery. This is because finding FRBs and pinpointing FRBs is very technically challenging.

Astronomers from around Australia are working on making Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) into a FRB hunting and pinpointing telescope. To do this, the ASKAP detector must to be able to detect bursts in real time. In this image we show a pulse from the Crab pulsar. Every few minutes the Crab pulsar emits a 'giant pulse'. The ASKAP FRB detector found this pulse within half a second and downloaded these data from the 5 antennas that were observing at the time. These data, once suitably processed, can be used to pinpoint the direction that the pulse came from. (In the case of the Crab, we already know what that is, but for FRBs, that is a mystery waiting to be solved!)

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