Fast Radio Bursts, An Astronomical Mystery

Speaker:Prof. Peter Goldreich
Affiliation:Caltech, IAS
Time:14:30 - 16:30
Location:Lidow Rosen Auditorium (323)
Abstract:Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are strong, isolated, broad band, radio pulses
each lasting a few milliseconds. Their all-sky rates are estimated to be 104
per day. Arrival times of individual pulses exhibit delays precisely proportional
to inverse frequency squared as is typical for radio wave propagation
through a cold plasma. This is strong evidence for their astronomical origin.
For most bursts, the deduced column density of plasma greatly exceeds
that which our galaxy could provide. An obvious inference is that the bursts
originate at cosmological distances and that the plasma column density accumulates
in the intervening intergalactic medium. After summarizing the
observed properties of FRBs, I will discuss attempts to characterize their
sources. Are they natural or of intelligent design?