Summary of Flashes in the Scan

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The signals last only a few thousandths of a second. But they are strong enough to be detected on Earth, billions of light years away. What kind of object could be emitting them? Astronomers will know which of their four dozen hypotheses are correct, if any, only after collecting lots of data. A new telescope in Canada, CHIME, is starting to provide them with that data. Veteran science journalist Daniel Clery takes the reader with him into the observatory to witness the exciting hunt. The article with inspire anyone fascinated by the nature and origins of the universe.

About the Author

Daniel Clery is deputy news editor at Science magazine. He is the author of A Piece of the Sun: The Quest for Fusion Energy.


Extremely short radio pulses arrive at Earth from far beyond the Milky Way galaxy.

Researchers found the first FRB (“Radio Burst”) in 2007, in a data file of observations of the Parkes radio telescope in Australia. After a second archival discovery, the telescope bagged four new ones. These discoveries established the FRB as a bona fide astronomical phenomenon. More sources were discovered by other telescopes, two of which emit repeated bursts. But their origin remains a mystery.

The sources of FRBs must be powerful...

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