Fast Radio Bursts from Local Galaxy Clusters

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are millisecond duration extragalactic pulses of hitherto unknown physical origin. As of Nov. 15, 2020, 137 FRBs have been discovered, of which 22 are known to repeat. To view monthly updated FRB counts, refer to the FRB community newsletter archive.

The recent discovery of a luminous radio burst associated with the Galactic object SGR1935+2154 suggests a magnetar origin for at least one sub-population of FRBs. Precise burst localization and prompt spectroscopic follow-up of host galaxies is essential for characterizing FRB source environments. An FRB survey of local galaxy clusters, therefore, holds great promise for unraveling the identity of engimatic FRB engines. While FRB detections from such a survey will be potentially game-changing, non-detections will set tight constrains on the FRB luminosity distribution at its faint end.

Excited by the prospects of discovering FRBs from rich galaxy clusters in the local Universe, we recently surveyed the nearby Virgo (including member galaxy M87) and Coma clusters for FRBs with the Arecibo and Green Bank radio telescopes.

Fast Radio Burst
An artistic rendition of a fast radio burst arriving at the Green Bank Telescope. Image credits: Danielle Futselaar

Data processing is underway. Stay tuned for updates!