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Published November 19, 2019 | Submitted
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A fast radio burst localised to a massive galaxy


Intense, millisecond-duration bursts of radio waves have been detected from beyond the Milky Way [1]. Their extragalactic origins are evidenced by their large dispersion measures, which are greater than expected for propagation through the Milky Way interstellar medium alone, and imply contributions from the intergalactic medium and potentially host galaxies [2]. Although several theories exist for the sources of these fast radio bursts, their intensities, durations and temporal structures suggest coherent emission from highly magnetised plasma [3,4]. Two sources have been observed to repeat [5,6], and one repeater (FRB 121102) has been localised to the largest star-forming region of a dwarf galaxy at a cosmological redshift of 0.19 [7, 8]. However, the host galaxies and distances of the so far non-repeating fast radio bursts are yet to be identified. Unlike repeating sources, these events must be observed with an interferometer with sufficient spatial resolution for arcsecond localisation at the time of discovery. Here we report the localisation of a fast radio burst (FRB 190523) to a few-arcsecond region containing a single massive galaxy at a redshift of 0.66. This galaxy is in stark contrast to the host of FRB 121102, being a thousand times more massive, with a greater than hundred times lower specific star-formation rate. The properties of this galaxy highlight the possibility of a channel for FRB production associated with older stellar populations.

Additional Information

We thank the staff of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory, including J. Lamb, K. Hudson, A. Rizo and M. Virgin, for their assistance with the construction of the DSA-10. We thank A. Readhead for supporting the initiation of the DSA-10 project. We also thank A. Soliman for assistance with the development of the DSA-10 receivers. A portion of this research was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a President and Directors Fund grant and under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This research was additionally supported by the National Science Foundation under grant AST-1836018. VR acknowledges support as a Millikan Postdoctoral Scholar in Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, and from a Clay Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. SGD acknowledges a partial support from the NSF grant AST-1815034 and the NASA grant 16-ADAP16-0232. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. This research made use of Astropy, a community-developed core Python package for Astronomy. The Pan-STARRS1 Surveys (PS1) and the PS1 public science archive have been made possible through contributions by the Institute for Astronomy, the University of Hawaii, the Pan-STARRS Project Office, the Max-Planck Society and its participating institutes, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, The Johns Hopkins University, Durham University, the University of Edinburgh, the Queen's University Belfast, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network Incorporated, the National Central University of Taiwan, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. NNX08AR22G issued through the Planetary Science Division of the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the National Science Foundation Grant No. AST-1238877, the University of Maryland, Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE), the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Author contributions: G.H., V.R. and H.K.V. conceived of and developed the DSA-10 concept and observing strategy. V.R., J.K., and S.R.K. led the construction and initial deployment of DSA-10. D.W., S.W, L.D., J.K., V.R., H.K.V, M.C. and R.H. designed and built the DSA-10 subsystems. V.R. and H.K.V. commissioned the DSA-10. V.R. operated DSA-10 and analysed the data. S.G.D. carried out the optical observations. V.R. analysed the optical data, and led the writing of the manuscript with the assistance of all co-authors. Data availability statement: The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Code availability statement: Custom code is made available at https://github.com/VR-DSA.

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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023