Serendipity: Explaining away fast radio bursts

Fast radio bursts are one of the outstanding celestial mysteries. As was written here last month, these super-energetic flashes have been puzzling everyone who cares enough since 2007 when the first one was detected. However, a few which were found shortly after that had to be debunked. The reason is that they came from microwave ovens on earth. Which is not really spectacular.

As the relevant study from the Parkes radio telescope said, these events “can be generated under the right set of conditions with on-site microwave ovens”. More specifically, they “can be generated when a microwave oven door is opened prematurely and the telescope is at an appropriate relative angle”.

And to add the answer to the question certainly nagging everybody, “the two responsible ovens are from the same manufacturer (Matsushita/National) and are both in excess of 27 years of age though still working reliably”.

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