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Bustling Universe Radio Survey Telescope in Taiwan (BURSTT)

Figure 1: Artist’s interpretation of fast radio bursts, mysterious, millisecond flashes of radio light of unknown origin from far outside the Milky Way.
explanations of the origin of FRBs
Image credit: Danielle Futselaar/

This project will deliver a unique radio telescope, the Bustling Universe Radio Survey Telescope in Taiwan (BURSTT), and support several world-first science breakthroughs using this powerful new instrument.

Until recently, astronomers did not know that extragalactic millisecond-duration radio bursts—or fast radio bursts (FRBs)—are happening thousands of times each day. Despite having more than 50 theoretical models proposed, the nature of FRB remains unknown.

The physical origin of FRBs has become one of the most urgent questions in astronomy and physics. Why does the origin of FRBs remain unknown? Three major challenges have hampered the progress:

  1. The angular resolution of existing radio telescopes is poor, which makes it difficult to identify the accurate positions of FRBs;
  2. Existing radio telescopes are not tailored for FRBs, which results in most detected events being distant and faint and thereby difficult to detect in other wavelengths, which is critical for constructing physical models;
  3. The field-of-view (FoV) of existing telescopes is small and cannot distinguish repeated versus single-burst events with a distinct origin.

Figure 2. Many explanations have been posited to explain the origin of FRBs
explanations of the origin of FRBs

We propose to solve all three challenges by building the world’s first telescope dedicated to FRBs, the Bustling Universe Radio Survey Telescope in Taiwan (BURSTT), whose fisheye field-of-view will make its instantaneous exposure area 25 times greater than today’s best telescopes. At the same time, BURSTT is an interferometer with baselines of 100s km, allowing us to accurately locate the position of the FRBs to their host galaxies. This interferometer with a massive window to the sky will immediately solve challenges (1) and (2), allowing BURSTT to discover a large sample of bright FRBs with localization, and specifically those located close to Earth. FRBs detected by BURSTT will typically be ~3 times closer than those detected by today’s best telescope. Collecting a large sample of nearby FRBs with accurate positions is essential for allowing multi-wavelength detections. The question of FRBs’ origin will only be settled once we compare multi-wavelength and multi-messenger counterparts.

Through its wide FoV, BURSTT will be by far the best positioned instrument to find multi-messenger counterparts through gravitational waves, neutrinos, cosmic rays, and high energy photons. Multiwavelength follow-up will require optical, X-ray and gamma-ray instruments. While in general they cannot peer deep into the Universe, these instruments can thoroughly investigate regions nearer to Earth.

BURSTT’s large FoV also provides us with a high-cadence, i.e., repeating FRBs can be precisely known. The capability of distinguishing repeated versus single-burst events is critical, because their physical origins are likely different. The immediate scientific goals of this project are to

In the long run, our investigations will allow us to launch even more ambitious science, such as using FRBs as a cosmic probe to constrain theories of dark energy. BURSTT’s sample of thousands of FRBs will be unprecedented, with accurate localization and high cadence. By building the first FRB telescope, Taiwan will become a world leader of FRB science.

FRB Workshop Participants
Participants of the inaugural Taiwan FRB Face-to-Face Workshop discussed the science and technology of BURSTT.

Project Members (14)

Pen, Ue-Li 彭威禮 cv
Director; Distinguished Research Fellow
Speciality: Fast radio bursts, Pulsars, Cosmology
Chen, Ming-Tang 陳明堂 cv
Deputy Director for Hawaii Operations; Research Fellow
Speciality: radio instrumentations, millimeter and microwave engineers, Gaussian optics, Mathematica, python, and cryogenics.
Hwang, Yuh-Jing 黃裕津 cv
Associate Research Fellow
Speciality: Microwave and Millimeter-wave Engineering; nonlinear microwave circuit theory
Huang, Teddy 黃祤杰 cv
Senior Research Engineer
Speciality: Mechanical Engineering, Radio Receiver System, Project Management Professional
Jiang, Homin 江宏明 cv
Senior Research Engineer
Speciality: Digital Electronic Engineering Control Engineering
Li, Chao-Te 李昭德 cv
Senior Research Engineer
Speciality: Superconducting detectors and receivers, Backend signal processing
Tseng, Yao-Huan 曾耀寰 cv
ITS office manager, Associate Research Scientist
Speciality: GPU computing, Parallel Computing, disk-planet interaction, Galactic Dynamics and Large Scale Structure Formation in Universe
Wang, Jen-Hung 汪仁鴻 cv
EPO office manager, Assistant Research Scientist
Speciality: Optical Astronomy, Solar System Minor Bodies, Orbit Determination, Occultation Prediction, Solar System Ephemeris
Chang, Shu-Hao 張書豪 cv
Research Technician
Speciality: Electrical Engineering
King, Sun-Kun 金升光 cv
Program Facilitator
Speciality: Quantum Optics & Quantum Measurement; Satellite Systems Engineering (Orbit Analysis); Kuiper Belt Objects & Occultation Survey
Lin, Kai-Yang 林凱揚 cv
Support Scientist
Speciality: Observational Cosmology, Galaxy Cluster; Radio Interferometry
Lin, Hsiu-Hsien 林修賢 cv
Postdoc Fellow
Speciality: Fast Radio Bursts, Pulsars
Tseng, Hsien-Chun 曾獻群 cv
High-Performance Computing Specialist
Speciality: High-Performance Computing

Journal Papers (1)

  1. Lin H-H; Lin K-Y; Li C-T; Tseng Y-H; Jiang H; Wang J-H; Cheng J-C; Pen U-L; Chen M-T; Chen P; Chen Y; Goto T; Hashimoto T; Hwang Y-J; King S-K; Kubo D; Kuo C-Y; Mills A; Nam J; Oshiro P; Shen C-S; Tseng H-C; Wang S-H; Feng-Shun Wu V; Bower G; Chang S-H; Chen P-A; Chen Y-C; Chiang Y-K; Fedynitch A; Gusinskaia N; Ho SCC; Hsiao TYY; Hu C-P; Huang Y D; Jauregui Garcia JM; Kim SJ; Kuo C-Y; Fang-Jie Ling D; On AYL; Peterson JB; Raquel BJR; Su S-C; Uno Y; Wu CKW; Yamasaki S; Zhu H-M, "BURSTT: Bustling Universe Radio Survey Telescope in Taiwan" , PASP: 134(1039), id.094106 (14pp), Sep, 2022 [SCI] ( ADS | Fulltext )
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