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Burst timescales and luminosities as links between young pulsars and fast radio bursts

Nimmo, K. and Hessels, J. W. T. and Kirsten, F. and Keimpema, A. and Cordes, J. M. and Snelders, M. P. and Hewitt, D. M. and Karuppusamy, R. and Archibald, A. M. and Bezrukovs, V. and Bhardwaj, M. and Blaauw, R. and Buttaccio, S. T. and Cassanelli, T. and Conway, J. E. and Corongiu, A. and Feiler, R. and Fonseca, E. and Forssén, O. and Gawroński, M. and Giroletti, M. and Kharinov, M. A. and Leung, C. and Lindqvist, M. and Maccaferri, G. and Marcote, B. and Masui, K. W. and Mckinven, R. and Melnikov, A. and Michilli, D. and Mikhailov, A. G. and Ng, C. and Orbidans, A. and Ould-Boukattine, O. S. and Paragi, Z. and Pearlman, A. B. and Petroff, E. and Rahman, M. and Scholz, P. and Shin, K. and Smith, K. M. and Stairs, I. H. and Surcis, G. and Tendulkar, S. P. and Vlemmings, W. and Wang, N. and Yang, J. and Yuan, J. P. (2022) Burst timescales and luminosities as links between young pulsars and fast radio bursts. Nature Astronomy, 6 (3). pp. 393-401. ISSN 2397-3366. doi:10.1038/s41550-021-01569-9.

[img] PDF (Supplementary methods, Figs. 1–3 and Table 1) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 1: The probability that the brightest 1–2 bin features in the 31.25 ns burst profiles are consistent with the local amplitude modulated noise distribution) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 2: Low time resolution 2D autocorrelation functions (ACFs) of the bursts detected from FRB 20200120E) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 3: Measurement of the scintillation bandwidth in the autocorrelation function (ACF) of each of the five bursts from FRB 20200120E) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 4: Dynamic spectrum of burst B3 from FRB 20200120E with time resolution 31.25 ns, temporal autocorrelation function (ACF) and power spectrum (PS)) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 5: Dynamic spectrum, ACF and PS for burst B2 from FRB 20200120E) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 6: Dynamic spectrum, ACF and PS for burst B4 from FRB 20200120E) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 7: Correlation coefficient between single time bin (1 μs) spectra of bursts B2, B3 and B4 from FRB 20200120E) - Supplemental Material
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[img] Image (JPEG) (Extended Data Fig. 8: High time resolution polarimetric profile and polarization position angle (PPA) for burst B3 from FRB 20200120E) - Supplemental Material
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Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are extragalactic radio flashes of unknown physical origin. Their high luminosities and short durations require extreme energy densities, such as those found in the vicinity of neutron stars and black holes. Studying the burst intensities and polarimetric properties on a wide range of timescales, from milliseconds down to nanoseconds, is key to understanding the emission mechanism. However, high-time-resolution studies of FRBs are limited by their unpredictable activity levels, available instrumentation and temporal broadening in the intervening ionized medium. Here we show that the repeating FRB 20200120E can produce isolated shots of emission as short as about 60 nanoseconds in duration, with brightness temperatures as high as 3 × 10⁴¹ K (excluding relativistic effects), comparable with ‘nano-shots’ from the Crab pulsar. Comparing both the range of timescales and luminosities, we find that FRB 20200120E observationally bridges the gap between known Galactic young pulsars and magnetars and the much more distant extragalactic FRBs. This suggests a common magnetically powered emission mechanism spanning many orders of magnitude in timescale and luminosity. In this Article, we probe a relatively unexplored region of the short-duration transient phase space; we highlight that there probably exists a population of ultrafast radio transients at nanosecond to microsecond timescales, which current FRB searches are insensitive to.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access ItemCode ItemPhased-array branch of SFXC ItemBolometer branch of SFXC ItemDSPSR ItemPSRCHIVE ItemPRESTO ItemSpS ItemHeimdall ItemFETCH
Nimmo, K.0000-0003-0510-0740
Hessels, J. W. T.0000-0003-2317-1446
Kirsten, F.0000-0001-6664-8668
Keimpema, A.0000-0002-5575-2774
Cordes, J. M.0000-0002-4049-1882
Snelders, M. P.0000-0001-6170-2282
Hewitt, D. M.0000-0002-5794-2360
Karuppusamy, R.0000-0002-5307-2919
Bezrukovs, V.0000-0003-3655-2280
Bhardwaj, M.0000-0002-3615-3514
Buttaccio, S. T.0000-0002-3341-466X
Cassanelli, T.0000-0003-2047-5276
Fonseca, E.0000-0001-8384-5049
Giroletti, M.0000-0002-8657-8852
Leung, C.0000-0002-4209-7408
Lindqvist, M.0000-0002-3669-0715
Maccaferri, G.0000-0002-1482-708X
Marcote, B.0000-0001-9814-2354
Masui, K. W.0000-0002-4279-6946
Melnikov, A.0000-0002-8466-7026
Michilli, D.0000-0002-2551-7554
Mikhailov, A. G.0000-0002-3355-2261
Ng, C.0000-0002-3616-5160
Ould-Boukattine, O. S.0000-0001-9381-8466
Paragi, Z.0000-0002-5195-335X
Pearlman, A. B.0000-0002-8912-0732
Petroff, E.0000-0002-9822-8008
Rahman, M.0000-0003-1842-6096
Scholz, P.0000-0002-7374-7119
Shin, K.0000-0002-6823-2073
Stairs, I. H.0000-0001-9784-8670
Surcis, G.0000-0003-2775-442X
Tendulkar, S. P.0000-0003-2548-2926
Vlemmings, W.0000-0002-2700-9916
Wang, N.0000-0002-9786-8548
Yang, J.0000-0002-2322-5232
Additional Information:© 2022 Nature Publishing Group. Received 23 October 2021; Accepted 19 November 2021; Published 23 February 2022. We thank W. van Straten for help with digifil. The European VLBI Network is a joint facility of independent European, African, Asian and North American radio astronomy institutes. Scientific results from data presented in this publication are derived from the following EVN project code: EK048. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreements No. 730562 (RadioNet) and 101004719 (OPTICON–RadioNet Pilot). A.B.P is a McGill Space Institute Fellow and a Fonds de Recherche du Quebec—Nature et Technologies (FRQNT) postdoctoral fellow. B.M. acknowledges support from the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad under grant AYA2016-76012-C3-1-P and from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación under grants PID2019-105510GB-C31 and CEX2019-000918-M of the Institut de Ciències del Cosmos of the Universitat de Barcelona (Unidad de Excelencia ‘María de Maeztu’ 2020–2023). C.L. was supported by the US Department of Defense through the National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program. D.M. is a Banting Fellow. E.P. acknowledges funding from a Dutch Research Council (NWO) Veni Fellowship. F.K. acknowledges support from the Swedish Research Council. FRB research at the University of British Columbia is supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant and by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. J.P.Y. is supported by the National Program on Key Research and Development Project (2017YFA0402602). K.S. is supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. K.W.M. is supported by a National Science Foundation Grant (2008031). M.B. is supported by an FRQNT Doctoral Research Award. N.W. acknowledges support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 12041304 and 11873080). P.S. is a Dunlap Fellow and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow. The Dunlap Institute is funded through an endowment established by the David Dunlap family and the University of Toronto. V.B. acknowledges support from the Engineering Research Institute Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre. Research by the AstroFlash group at University of Amsterdam, ASTRON and the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC is supported in part by an NWO Vici grant (principal investigator J.W.T.H.; VI.C.192.045). Data availability: The data that support the plots and results in this study are available at: Code availability: The code used for the analysis and figures in this work can be found here: The phased-array branch of SFXC can be accessed here: The bolometer branch of SFXC can be accessed here: DSPSR (which contains digifil) can be installed from here: PSRCHIVE can be installed from here: For burst searches the required software is PRESTO (, SpS (, Heimdall ( and FETCH ( Contributions: K.N. led the data analysis, made the figures and wrote most of the manuscript. J.W.T.H. guided the work and made important contributions to the writing and interpretation. F.K. discovered the bursts and contributed to the analysis of the voltage data. A.K. adapted the SFXC code to create coherently dedispersed voltage data at the native time resolution. J.M.C. provided important insights into the data analysis strategy. M.P.S., D.M.H. and R.K. played supporting roles in the data acquisition and analysis. All other authors contributed significantly to laying the groundwork for this study, or aspects of the data acquisition or interpretation. The authors declare no competing interests. Peer review information: Nature Astronomy thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research Council (ERC)730562 RadioNet
European Research Council (ERC)101004719
McGill Space InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies (FRQNT)UNSPECIFIED
Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (MINECO)AYA2016-76012-C3-1-P
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (MCINN)PID2019-105510GB-C31
Centro de Excelencia Severo OchoaCEX2019-000918-M
National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)UNSPECIFIED
Swedish Research CouncilUNSPECIFIED
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)UNSPECIFIED
National Key Research and Development Program of China2017YFA0402602
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
National Natural Science Foundation of China12041304
National Natural Science Foundation of China11873080
Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and AstrophysicsUNSPECIFIED
David Dunlap FamilyUNSPECIFIED
University of TorontoUNSPECIFIED
Ventspils International Radio Astronomy CentreUNSPECIFIED
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)VI.C.192.045
Subject Keywords:Compact astrophysical objects; Transient astrophysical phenomena
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220311-567729500
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Nimmo, K., Hessels, J.W.T., Kirsten, F. et al. Burst timescales and luminosities as links between young pulsars and fast radio bursts. Nat Astron 6, 393–401 (2022).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113894
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Mar 2022 23:31
Last Modified:17 Mar 2022 16:22

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