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Fast Radio Bursts

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In 2007 a very bright burst of radio emission which lasted just a few milliseconds was discovered which originated far outside of our own galaxy. The extreme brightness and the very short duration indicate that the source must be highly energetic and mostly likely associated with a black hole or neutron star. Another possibility is that they are caused by some cataclysmic event, like the collapse of a neutron star to form a black hole or the merger of two neutron stars. As these bursts are occurring at extragalactic distances they are potentially great probes of the material and space between us and their origin. There are now more than 50 of these bursts known and the race is on to find many more with new and existing telescopes around the world. I will discuss some of the history of FRBs, our current understanding, and look forward to the future. This will include a discussion of MeerTRAP the commensal program to search and precisely localise FRBs with the MeerKAT telescope.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Colloquia series.

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