Past Event

Physics Colloquia: Dongzi Li

January 30, 2023
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
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Center for Theoretical Physics (Pupin Hall 8th Floor)

"Mysteries of fast radio bursts"

Making use of exponential increases in computing power and memory per dollar, radio astronomers have been able to search larger areas of sky with ever higher bandwidth at high time and frequency resolution. This has uncovered extraordinary powerful fast radio bursts (FRBs), which have just millisecond duration and are visible at a cosmological distances. Hundreds of FRBs have been detected in the past five years with dedicated radio surveys. FRBs are a new probe of cosmological matter, since each burst carries information on the number of electrons it encounters before reaching the earth. In this talk, I will review the current understanding of the origin of FRBs, as well as the many remaining mysteries, including the seemingly diverse nature of the sources, the plasma and magnetic environments near the burst, and the 16-day periodicity I found with one source.  I will also introduce current and upcoming instruments which will detect more FRBs with orders of magnitude better spatial resolution. The result will be an explosion of opportunity for understanding burst origin and probing cosmic matter distribution at various spatial scales.