Duncan Lorimer says he will never forget the day in 2007 when he stumbled upon the first bolt from the blue. The West Virginia University astronomer had tasked an undergraduate student, David Narkovic, with combing through pulsar survey data from Parkes Observatory in Australia, and one day Narkovic walked into Lorimer’s office with an unusual signal unlike anything anyone had seen or predicted before. It was one of the brightest astronomical sources in the sky for a scant few milliseconds, and it bore signatures of an origin beyond the galaxy. “I was stunned,” recalls Lorimer. “Frankly, I didn’t know what to make of it.”
It’s been 10 years since the first FRB discovery. It’s generated so much buzz that in 2017, a few dozen astronomers held the first conference on FRBs, and millions of dollars in funding have been devoted to finding more. But as more bursts come in, the mystery has only deepened. To travel the distance between galaxies, FRBs must have an insane amount of energy — in the few brief milliseconds it shines, an FRB can generate more energy than the Sun does in a day. And yet despite the tremendous energy, no one has a clue about where they come from.To read more, click here.