"We have more ideas of what they could be than we have actual detected fast radio bursts", Dustin Lang, a computational scientist with Ontario's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics whose software helped detect the FRBs, said in a video released by the Institute on Wednesday.
The telescope is protected in a federally, legally enforced zone of no manmade radio signals, to ensure that the ordinary interferences that cause false observations are omitted. Incredibly, these radio waves originate from distant galaxies, travelling at high energies through the cosmos for literally billions of years.
More likely, CHIME's Shiryash Tendulkar says, is the possibility that they come from a "very strongly magnetized, rapidly spinning neutron star called a millisecond magnetar".
In 2015, McGill University PhD student Paul Scholz found that a previously detected FRB actually repeated. Interestingly, some the signals follow a repeating pattern, per Science News, so they don't appear to be random in nature.
Team member Prof Tom Landecker, an astrophysicist at the National Research Council of Canada, added: "That tells us something about the environments and the sources". What makes these findings especially exciting is that CHIME managed to find these signals while it was still being prepped for full operation.
CHIME maps the entire northern hemisphere every day, said Stairs, meaning it's only a matter of time before more repeating FRBs are detected.
Having two sets of repeating bursts could also allow scientists to understand what distinguishes them from single bursts, helping them understand more about their source and watch for future blasts.
"Different emission mechanisms expect that FRBs will be emitted within a certain range of radio frequencies, much like a light bulb can not emit X-rays or a microwave oven can not emit ultraviolet light", Tendulkar told Gizmodo.
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Using a series of four semicircular dishes, the telescope stays pointed consistently in the same direction, waiting to pick up signals.
"[We now know] the sources can produce low-frequency radio waves and those low-frequency waves can escape their environment, and are not too scattered to be detected by the time they reach the Earth".
The scientists note that the repeaters were observed at a lower frequency compared to other recorded FRBs.
However, the biggest of these mysteries is - are we all alone in the universe? Researchers have traced the signal to a specific location: a galaxy some 3 billion light years away. This is the second known documentation of a repeating FRB, whilst the last documented repeater was in 2012.
Cornell University's Shami Chatterjee, a fellow FRB researcher, agreed: "This field is about to break wide open". Once CHIME was fully up-and-running, it heard the source a handful more times, always coming from the same direction of the sky, though astronomers are still trying to pinpoint an exact source.
Most had been found near 1400 MHz - well above the telescope's 400 to 800 capability. While it was waiting to come fully online, it picked up these 13 FRBs.
The scientists note that until now, there was only one known repeating FRB.
Scientists are unsure where the bursts originate, but believe they are created by black holes or super-dense neutron stars, according to the Press Association. There is little evidence of where they might be coming from, The Independent reported. Prior to this, only 50 FRBs had ever been observed by humans, only one of which was a repeater.