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Chromatic periodic activity down to 120 megahertz in a fast radio burst

Pastor-Marazuela, Inés and Connor, Liam and van Leeuwen, Joeri and Maan, Yogesh and ter Veen, Sander and Bilous, Anna and Oostrum, Leon and Petroff, Emily and Straal, Samayra and Vohl, Dany and Attema, Jisk and Boersma, Oliver M. and Kooistra, Eric and van der Schuur, Daniel and Sclocco, Alessio and Smits, Roy and Adams, Elizabeth A. K. and Adebahr, Björn and de Blok, W. J. G. and Coolen, Arthur H. W. M. and Damstra, Sieds and Dénes, Helga and Hess, Kelley M. and van der Hulst, Thijs and Hut, Boudewijn and Ivashina, V. Marianna and Kutkin, Alexander and Loose, G. Marcel and Lucero, Danielle M. and Mika, Ágnes and Moss, Vanessa A. and Mulder, Henk and Norden, Menno J. and Oosterloo, Tom and Orrú, Emanuela and Ruiter, Mark and Wijnholds, Stefan J. (2021) Chromatic periodic activity down to 120 megahertz in a fast radio burst. Nature, 596 (7873). pp. 505-508. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03724-8.

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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 1: The FRB 20180916B fluence distribution at Apertif and at LOFAR) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 2: Dynamic spectra of Apertif bursts A01–A27) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 3: Dynamic spectra of Apertif bursts A28–A54) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 4: Observations and detections as a function of phase) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 5: Comparison of simulated and observed activity window P values) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 6: Stacked LOFAR bursts) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 7: Apertif burst properties against phase) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 8: Five of the bursts with a measurable drift rate) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 9: Finding the best period) - Supplemental Material
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Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Table 1 Summary of LOFAR burst properties) - Supplemental Material
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Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Table 2 Summary of Apertif burst properties) - Supplemental Material
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Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are extragalactic astrophysical transients whose brightness requires emitters that are highly energetic yet compact enough to produce the short, millisecond-duration bursts. FRBs have thus far been detected at frequencies from 8 gigahertz (ref. 2) down to 300 megahertz (ref. 3), but lower-frequency emission has remained elusive. Some FRBs repeat, and one of the most frequently detected, FRB 20180916B7, has a periodicity cycle of 16.35 days (ref. 8). Using simultaneous radio data spanning a wide range of wavelengths (a factor of more than 10), here we show that FRB 20180916B emits down to 120 megahertz, and that its activity window is frequency dependent (that is, chromatic). The window is both narrower and earlier at higher frequencies. Binary wind interaction models predict a wider window at higher frequencies, the opposite of our observations. Our full-cycle coverage shows that the 16.3-day periodicity is not aliased. We establish that low-frequency FRB emission can escape the local medium. For bursts of the same fluence, FRB 20180916B is more active below 200 megahertz than at 1.4 gigahertz. Combining our results with previous upper limits on the all-sky FRB rate at 150 megahertz, we find there are 3–450 FRBs in the sky per day above 50 Jy ms. Our chromatic results strongly disfavour scenarios in which absorption from strong stellar winds causes FRB periodicity. We demonstrate that some FRBs are found in ‘clean’ environments that do not absorb or scatter low-frequency radiation.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access Paper ItemALERT archive ItemLOFAR Long Term Archive
Pastor-Marazuela, Inés0000-0002-4357-8027
Connor, Liam0000-0002-7587-6352
van Leeuwen, Joeri0000-0001-8503-6958
Maan, Yogesh0000-0002-0862-6062
ter Veen, Sander0000-0002-3285-8218
Oostrum, Leon0000-0001-8724-8372
Petroff, Emily0000-0002-9822-8008
Straal, Samayra0000-0003-4136-7848
Vohl, Dany0000-0003-1779-4532
Attema, Jisk0000-0002-0948-1176
Boersma, Oliver M.0000-0002-7925-9503
van der Schuur, Daniel0000-0002-9142-1411
Sclocco, Alessio0000-0003-3278-0518
Adams, Elizabeth A. K.0000-0002-9798-5111
Adebahr, Björn0000-0002-5447-6878
de Blok, W. J. G.0000-0001-8957-4518
Dénes, Helga0000-0002-9214-8613
Hess, Kelley M.0000-0001-9662-9089
Kutkin, Alexander0000-0002-1123-7498
Loose, G. Marcel0000-0003-4721-747X
Lucero, Danielle M.0000-0002-9288-9331
Moss, Vanessa A.0000-0002-3005-9738
Oosterloo, Tom0000-0002-0616-6971
Wijnholds, Stefan J.0000-0002-0463-3011
Alternate Title:Chromatic periodic activity down to 120 MHz in a Fast Radio Burst
Additional Information:© 2021 Nature Publishing Group. Received 15 December 2020; Accepted 14 June 2021; Published 25 August 2021. This research was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 617199 (‘ALERT’), and by Vici research programme ‘ARGO’ with project number 639.043.815, financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Instrumentation development was supported by NWO (grant 614.061.613 ‘ARTS’) and the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (‘NOVA4-ARTS’, ‘NOVA-NW3’ and ‘NOVA5-NW3-’). PI of aforementioned grants is J.v.L. We further acknowledge funding from an NWO Veni Fellowship to E.P.; from Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC) grant ASDI.15.406 to D.V. and A.S.; from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant number NNX17AL74G issued through the NNH16ZDA001N Astrophysics Data Analysis Program (ADAP) to S.S.; by the WISE research programme, financed by NWO, to E.A.K.A.; from FP/2007-2013 ERC grant agreement no. 291531 (‘HIStoryNU’) to T.v.d.H.; and from VINNOVA VINNMER grant 2009-01175 to V.M.I. I.P.-M. and Y.M. thank M. A. Krishnakumar for providing a software module that was useful in estimating the scatter-broadening timescale. This work makes use of data from the Apertif system installed at the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope owned by ASTRON. ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, is an institute of NWO. This paper is based (in part) on data obtained with the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) under project code COM_ALERT. These data are accessible through the LOFAR Long Term Archive, LOFAR (Methods) is the low frequency array designed and constructed by ASTRON. It has observing, data processing and data storage facilities in several countries, that are owned by various parties (each with their own funding sources), and that are collectively operated by the ILT foundation under a joint scientific policy. The ILT resources have benefitted from the following recent major funding sources: CNRS-INSU, Observatoire de Paris and Université d’Orléans, France; BMBF, MIWF-NRW, MPG, Germany; Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), Ireland; NWO, The Netherlands; The Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK; Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Poland. We acknowledge use of the CHIME/FRB Public Database, provided at by the CHIME/FRB Collaboration. Data availability: Raw data were generated by the Apertif system on the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope and by the International LOFAR Telescope. The Apertif data that support the findings of this study are available through the ALERT archive, The LOFAR data are available through the LOFAR Long Term Archive,, by searching for ‘Observations’ at J2000 coordinates RA = 01:57:43.2000, Dec. = +65:42:01.020, or by selecting COM_ALERT in ‘Other projects’ and downloading data which includes R3 in the ‘Observation description’. Code availability: The custom code used to generate these results is publicly available at (ref. 80). Author Contributions: I.P.-M., L.C., J.v.L., Y.M., S.t.V., A.B., L.O., E.P., S.S. and D.V. analysed and interpreted the data. I.P.-M., L.C., J.v.L., Y.M. and S.t.V. contributed to the LOFAR data acquisition, and to the conception, design and creation of LOFAR analysis software. I.P.-M., L.C. and J.v.L. conceived and drafted the work, and Y.M., S.t.V., A.B., L.O., E.P., S.S. and D.V. contributed substantial revisions. L.O., J.A., O.M.B., E.K., D.v.d.S., A.S., R.S., E.A.K.A., B.A., W.J.G.d.B., A.H.W.M.C., S.D., H.D., K.M.H., T.v.d.H., B.H., V.M.I., A.K., G.M.L., D.M.L., A.M., V.A.M., H.M., M.J.N., T.O., E.O., M.R. and S.J.W. contributed to the conception, design and creation of the Apertif hardware, software and firmware used in this work, and to the Apertif data acquisition. The authors declare no competing interests. Peer review information: Nature thanks Scott Ransom and Matthew Bailes for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research Council (ERC)617199
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)639.043.815
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)614.061.613
Nederlandse Onderzoekschool Voor Astronomie (NOVA)NOVA5-NW3-
Netherlands eScience CenterASDI.15.406
European Research Council (ERC)291531
Subject Keywords:Compact astrophysical objects; High-energy astrophysics; Time-domain astronomy; Transient astrophysical phenomena
Issue or Number:7873
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210831-163819651
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Pastor-Marazuela, I., Connor, L., van Leeuwen, J. et al. Chromatic periodic activity down to 120 megahertz in a fast radio burst. Nature 596, 505–508 (2021).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:110634
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:31 Aug 2021 18:21
Last Modified:31 Aug 2021 18:21

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