Top 10 international science stories of 2020

By Wang Yiming
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 20, 2021
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# A fast radio burst first reveals its origins

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in southwest China's Guizhou province, Jan. 11, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are bright, powerful emissions of radio waves ranging from a fraction of a millisecond to a few milliseconds. Since they were first discovered in 2007, astronomers from around the world have used radio telescopes to trace the bursts and look for clues about where they come from and how they are produced.

According to studies published in the journal Nature in November 2020, researchers tracked a fast radio burst to a type of star called a magnetar that is 32,000 light-years from earth. This was not only the first FRB traced to its source, but the first to emanate from our galaxy. 

Back in April, an international team led by scientists at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) made the discovery by analyzing data from China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST). Radio observatories in Canada and the United States also caught a glancing blow from an FRB.

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