RCIScience/RASC: Strange Signals: Fast Radio Bursts (ONLINE)

Strange Signals: Fast Radio Bursts
Sunday, February 28, 2021 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Astronomy is a science of eons. In the cosmos, things change over millions or  billions of years. Most transient events in the sky are due to happenings in our own solar system. But, roughly a decade ago, astronomers began to detect bursts of radio energy that lasted only a few milliseconds. They arrived from anywhere in the sky, had clearly travelled from great distances and carried jaw-dropping amounts of energy.

These so-called Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) became a serious puzzle. Difficult to detect because they are so short lived, FRBs kept astronomers up at night wondering where they could possibly come from. Some even went so far as to suggest they were created by an extraterrestrial intelligence. Recently, with the help of the new Canadian telescope, CHIME, the source of these strange signals may finally have been uncovered. Spoiler Alert: it’s not little green men!

Join RCIScience on an astronomical detective hunt spanning the globe and the galaxies, meeting some of the weirder ideas from astrophysics along the way, as we search for the source of these strange signals.

About the Speakers

Nicole Mortillaro is an amateur astronomer, the editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, and a senior science reporter at CBC News. She is also the author of several books including the 2021 Night Sky Almanac: A Month-by-Month Guide to North America's Skies from The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Prof. Keith Vanderlinde is an experimental cosmologist and long-wavelength instrumentalist at the University of Toronto. He spent the first decade of his career studying the oldest light in the Universe, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which included an 11-month stint in Antarctica operating the South Pole Telescope (SPT). Lately his work has focused on cosmology with radio telescopes, which are undergoing something of a revolution thanks to the explosion of digital computing power.

Keith and his team developed the custom supercomputer at the heart of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), which transforms it from a traditional telescope to one simultaneously looking in a thousand different directions and running a dozen distinct studies: from mapping the Universe to unearthing Fast Radio Bursts. He is leading the digital system design on South Africa's upcoming HIRAX telescope, and is co-leading the upcoming CHORD telescope here in Canada.

Who can attend: Everyone
Registration: Eventbrite
Organized by: The Royal Canadian Institute for Science in partnership with the RASC, Toronto Centre
Link: https://www.youtube.com/rciscience/live