Repeating Fast Radio Burst Traced to Unexpected Location

M81, Spitzer Space Telescope (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A recently discovered repeating fast radio burst (FRB) named FRB 20200120E is deepening the mystery of these already deeply mysterious space signals.

Astronomers have tracked its location to a galaxy 11.7 million light-years away, which makes it the closest known extragalactic fast radio burst, 40 times closer than the next-closest extragalactic signal.

But it also appears in a globular cluster – a clump of very old stars, not the sort of place at all one might expect to find the type of star spitting out FRBs.

Its discovery suggests a different formation mechanism for these stars, suggesting that FRBs could emerge from a wider range of environments than we thought.

FRBs have been deviling scientists since the first one was discovered back in 2007. They consist of extremely powerful signals from deep space, millions of light-years away, some discharging more energy than 500 million Suns and only detected in radio wavelengths.

Yet these bursts are shockingly brief, shorter than the blink of an eye – mere milliseconds in duration – and most of them don’t repeat, making them very hard to predict, trace, and therefore understand.

Great article. Helluva topic.

You know…at the rate we humans are expanding the specialized systems encompassing all of astronomy, the next century or so is going to be truly interesting.

David Hockney puts down his brushes…picks up his iPad

For the past three years, David Hockney and his longtime partner, Jean-Pierre (JP) Gonçalves de Lima, have lived in a remote seventeenth-century cottage in France’s Normandy region. They first saw the home in 2018, during an impromptu visit to the area, and they were so enamored that they made an offer to buy it on the spot. A traditional, low-ceilinged house surrounded by outbuildings, it sits beside a river amid gently rolling hills. Gonçalves de Lima took the lead in restoring the property, converting a cider-press building into a skylit art studio…

After thirty-five years in sunny California, Hockney found fresh inspiration in the Norman landscape’s dramatic seasonal changes. In 2020, he began drawing on his iPad every day, documenting the grounds’ poplar and fruit trees as their first blossoms appeared. A selection of lusciously enlarged prints was exhibited at London’s Royal Academy of Arts last summer, in a show titled “The Arrival of Spring.” A more recent exhibit of iPad paintings, at Paris’s Musée de L’Orangerie, presented a yearlong chronicle of the seasons, from springtime to a rare snowy day. It was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, a medieval embroidery depicting the Normans’ conquest of England, which is housed in a museum not far from Hockney’s home…

At eighty-four, Hockney is frailer than he once was, but his vigor waxes as he discusses his thoughts about art. His trusty iPad—whose cover is smeared with paint—accompanies him wherever he goes…even though his most recent series of paintings brought him back to his brushes, He needed [I felt] to reassure himself that his basic skills and style as a painter remained painterly.

I understand the changes, even the need to wander back to previous skills. Though I’ve never felt any such need. I’ve had some success as impromptu photographer. Survived the changeover from film to digital just fine. And, now, after reflecting for quite a spell, rely on my iPhone and, rarely, my iPad…my digital cameras sit on the shelf. I may look back at topics, subjects, previous inspiration. But, every change in technology I’ve embraced has worked so much better than “good enough” that I haven’t yet had any inclination to revert.