BURSTT aims to reveal the origin of mysterious fast radio bursts

Mysterious fast radio bursts

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are mysterious, millisecond flashes of radio light of unknown origin from far outside the Milky Way. The nature of FRBs, including their emission mechanism and environment, is one of the most perplexing enigmas in astrophysics and a major front for research. To deepen the mystery, a subset of FRB sources emits multiple bursts, the so-called “repeaters,” while for most FRBs only one burst is observed. Their all-sky rate of ~1,000 per day suggests the phenomenon is ubiquitous.

Progenitor candidates

There is no consensus about the FRB origin despite a large number of recent detections. Understanding these enigmatic new objects remains one of the most important missions of astronomy. Diverse progenitors have been proposed as the origin of FRBs, including white dwarfs, old neutron stars, old black holes, magnetars, young pulsars, supernovae remnants, and active supermassive black holes.

Why unknown?

Previous observatories have been hampered by the following four problems

Lack of localization capability

Poor field of view

Missing FRBs due to narrow time windows

Mismatch with multi-messengers

BURSTT adresses these four challenges

BURSTT overcomes the four challenges with the following advantages

Accurate localization

Extremely wide field of view

Complete census of nearby FRBs with a long time window

Synergy with multi-messengers

Science cases

Progenitor identification

FRB statistics

Multi-wavelength/messenger counterparts

Host galaxies



Future BURSTT-2048 sciences

Once the origin of FRBs is understood, FRBs can be employed as cosmic probes to address key science challenges

Dark energy

Dark matter

Missing baryon problem

Cosmic reionization

Cosmic expansion

Testing General Relativity

Image credits

  • The first image: Chalmers University of Technology/Daniëlle Futselaar, © Institute of Physics (the “Institute”) and IOP Publishing Limited 2019.

  • The second image: Chalmers University of Technology/Daniëlle Futselaar,

  • The third image: Tetsuya Hashimoto, Mark Garlick, B.Kiziltan/T. Karacan, Tetsuya Hashimoto, Nature astronomy, NASA, and MIT Kavli.

  • The fourth and eighth images: ESA/Hubble & NASA, F. Pacaud, D. Coe

  • The fifth and ninth images: Milky Way Panorama.

  • The sixth and tenth images: BURSTT

  • The seventh image: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

  • The 11th image: National Science Foundation/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet

  • The 12th image: Tetsuya Hashimoto

  • The 13th image: Tetsuya Hashimoto et al., 2022, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 511, Issue 2, pp.1961-1976

  • The 14th image: IceCube Neutrino Observatory

  • The 15th image: Gemini Observatory / NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory / AURA

  • The 16th image: Ravi et al., 2016, Science, Volume 354, Issue 6317, pp. 1249-1252

  • The 17th image: Cho et al., 2020, the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 891, Issue 2, id.L38, 10 pp.

  • The 18th image: Astronomy/Roen Kelly

  • The 19th image: ScienceAlert/sakkmesterke/iStock

  • The 20th image: Illustris Collaboration

  • The 21st image: Loeb A., 2006, SciAm, 295,46

  • The 22nd image: Eugenio Bianchi, Carlo Rovelli & Rocky Kolb 2010, Nature, 446,321-322,

  • The 23rd image: Albert Einstein, Associated Press