January 04, 2024

A link between repeating and non-repeating fast radio bursts through their energy distributions

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are extremely energetic, millisecond-duration radio flashes that reach Earth from extragalactic distances. Broadly speaking, FRBs can be classified as repeating or (apparently) non-repeating. It is still unclear, however, whether the two types share a common physical origin and differ only in their activity rate. Here we report on an observing campaign that targeted one hyperactive repeating source, FRB 20201124A, for more than 2,000 h using four 25–32 m class radio telescopes. We detected 46 high-energy bursts, many more than one would expect given previous observations of lower-energy bursts using larger radio telescopes. We find a high-energy burst distribution that resembles that of the non-repeating FRB population, suggesting that apparently non-repeating FRB sources may simply be the rarest bursts from repeating sources. Also, we discuss how FRB 20201124A contributes strongly to the all-sky FRB rate and how similar sources would be observable even at very high redshift.

Kirsten, Ould-Boukattine et al. 2024, Nature Astronomy.