Fast radio bursts: The observational case for a Galactic origin

Dan Maoz*, Abraham Loeb, Yossi Shvartzvald, Monika Sitek, Michael Engel, Flavien Kiefer, Marcin Kiraga, Amir Levi, Tsevi Mazeh, Michal Pawlak, R. Michael Rich, Lev Tal-Or, Lukasz Wyrzykowski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There are by now ten published detections of fast radio bursts (FRBs) - single bright GHzband millisecond pulses of unknown origin. Proposed explanations cover a broad range from exotic processes at cosmological distances to atmospheric and terrestrial sources. Loeb, Maoz, and Shvartzvald have previously suggested that FRB sources could be nearby flare stars, and pointed out the presence of a W-UMa-type contact binary within the beam of one out of three FRB fields that they examined. To further test the flare-star hypothesis, we use time-domain optical photometry and spectroscopy, and now find possible flare stars in additional FRB fields, with one to three such cases among all eight FRB fields studied.We evaluate the chance probabilities of these possible associations to be in the range ~0.1 per cent to 9 per cent, depending on the input assumptions. Further, we re-analyse the probability that two FRBs recently discovered three years apart within the same radio beam are unrelated. Contrary to other claims, we conclude with 99 per cent confidence that the two events are from the same repeating source. The different dispersion measures between the two bursts then rule out a cosmological intergalactic-medium origin for the dispersion measure, but are consistent with the flare-star scenario with a varying plasma blanket between bursts. Finally, we review some theoretical objections that have been raised against a local flare-star FRB origin, and show that they are incorrect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2183-2189
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015


FundersFunder number
Polish National Science CenterDEC-2011/03/B/ST9/03299
Sackler Professorship by Special Appointment at Tel Aviv University
National Science Foundation1413755, 1829/12, 291352, 1312034, AST-1312034
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Sleep Foundation
University of California
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Oak Ridge Associated UniversitiesAST-1413755
European Research Council1423/11
Israel Science Foundation
Seventh Framework ProgrammeFP7/(2007-2013
Israeli Centers for Research Excellence


    • Radio continuum: stars
    • Stars coronae
    • Stars flare


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