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Fast Radio Bursts And Space Beacons For Interstellar Navigation

Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are a mystery to astrophysicists. However, some of them repeat at regular intervals, which means that they can be intensively studied:


(Fast Radio Bursts (FRB))

A team of astronomers, including researchers at MIT, has picked up on a curious, repeating rhythm of fast radio bursts (FRBs) emanating from an unknown source outside our galaxy, 500 million light years away.This new FRB source, which the team has catalogued as FRB 180916.J0158+65, is the first to produce a periodic, or cyclical pattern of fast radio bursts. The pattern begins with a noisy, four-day window, during which the source emits random bursts of radio waves, followed by a 12-day period of radio silence.

“This FRB we’re reporting now is like clockwork,” says Kiyoshi Masui, assistant professor of physics in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “It’s the most definitive pattern we’ve seen from one of these sources. And it’s a big clue that we can use to start hunting down the physics of what’s causing these bright flashes, which nobody really understands.”

(Via LightsInTheDark)

Science fiction authors put forward the idea that some sort of regular pulse that carried across a galaxy could be used for navigation; it would create "space beacons". For example, consider the space beacon from George O. Smith's 1952 story Troubled Star, which uses variable stars.

In his 1959 short story The Repairman, Harry Harrison points out that a hyperspace jump requires at least four beacons for a good fix; .

[Beacons] are built on planets and generate tremendous amounts of power. This power is turned into radiation that is punched through into hyperspace.

Every beacon has a code signal as part of its radiation and represents a measurable point in hyperspace.
(Read more about hyperspace beacon)

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