The Inspiration of Fast Radio Bursts


Fast radio bursts are short lived high energy pulses of light energy which come from far beyond the edges of our solar system. The source of these quick bursts of radio frequencies are mostly unknown beyond those discovered to be caused by humans, but they might help inspire us in unexpected ways.

For example we could find them extremely useful if we generated them ourselves. One of the reasons the Oort cloud and the vast majority of Kuiper belt objects remain undiscovered is because we can’t see them. They don’t generate their own light and are often orbiting in front of dense star fields washing out what little solar reflection they can muster.

If we launched a two part mission to work like an old fashioned flash bulb camera, one craft to emit high energy radar waves, the other to collect the reflections, it would be a much more efficient and effective way to unlock the secrets of the far reaches of the solar system than building better telescopes and pushing them into ever more distant orbits.

The flash craft would effectively emits several fast radio bursts and the camera vessel would record the returns and send them back for analysis. Using several short pulses would allow us to determine velocities and trajectories of any deep field objects detected.

One reason knowing this information about the distant solar system is important it’s assumed that comets get bumped into highly eccentric and fast moving orbits by other objects. It is often this bump which is credited with the high rate of speeds comets always have when we observe them. This is because it is assumed that objects way out in the Oort cloud must be orbiting very slowly as predicted by general relativity. If they orbit faster than they should according to GR, they way edge stars in a galaxy do, it would be a problem we’ve seen before, but we wouldn’t have the luxury of a dark matter mechanism to explain it.

The truth is we don’t know how fast Oort cloud objects orbit, in fact we’ve never even seen the thing at all, we think it’s there because comets come from somewhere. This is why observational missions to the edge solar system like the New Horizons which visited Ultima Tuli could potentially tell us as much if not so much more about the universe than anything we could ever hope to learn from the inner planets.

Such that it demands that we try.

When we do, we may use the inspiration of fast radio bursts to do it.