FRB 121102: New Bursts From Older Data

September 17, 2018
Images of stars with an inset of a galaxy
Image: The FRB in question. This is a Gemini composite image of the field around FRB 121102 (indicated). The dwarf host galaxy was imaged, and spectroscopy performed, using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) on the Gemini North telescope on Maunakea in Hawai’i. Data were obtained on October 24-25 and November 2, 2016, before the subsequent Breakthrough Listen observations at Green Bank. Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF/NRC.

“Not all discoveries come from new observations,” says Pete Worden, in a comment referring to original thinking as applied to an existing dataset. Worden is executive director of the Breakthrough Initiatives program, which includes Breakthrough Listen, an ambitious attempt to use SETI techniques to search for signs of technological activity in the universe. Note that last word: The targets Breakthrough Listen examines do extend to about one million stars in the stellar neighborhood, but they also go well outside the Milky Way, with 100 galaxies being studied in a range of radio and optical bands.

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