Radio signals from space : Are aliens trying to talk to us?

Cristina Cross
January 12, 2019

Scientists have discovered mysterious signals coming from a galaxy 1.5 billion light years away.

More than 60 FRBs have been observed to date, but this is only the second time researchers have found repeating bursts from a single source.

The first one, deemed FRB 121102, was discovered in 2015 by the Arecibo radio telescope, and it was revealed in 2018 that the bursts release an enormous amount of energy.

While most previous FRBs had been recorded at frequencies around 1400MHz, these new bursts were collected at between 800MHz and 400MHz-the lowest frequency CHIME can detect.

Several dozen FRBs have been recorded over the last decade, but CHIME's observations mark just the second time a repeating signal has been documented.

Fortunately, researchers expect to know more about them sooner than previously expected thanks to technological advancements, particularly with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope, which is touted as one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world. "And with more repeaters available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles a bit better - where they're from, what causes them, and why", says Ingrid Stairs, a member of the CHIME team and an astrophysicist at University of British Columbia. The telescope functions round the clock and scans the entire northern sky to catch transient FRBs.

The first FRB was detected by astronomers in 2007.

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As such, till it's proven otherwise, these FRBs could be like the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment - rumblings of an alien Honey Singh, rapping on in a distant galaxy for the conspiracy theorists out there, while still remaining nothing more than the final goodbyes of a dying black hole for dismissive scientists.

The precise cause of the blasts of radio waves is unknown.

The CHIME observatory in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada said they've discovered the second so-called "repeating fast radio burst" (FRB) ever recorded, according to a news release published January 9. Current technology allows us to understand these events, but space still holds many some surprises: fast radio bursts (or bursts) as example.

"By understanding these propagation effects and being able to separate them from the intrinsic characteristics of FRBs, we hope to be able to use FRBs as probes of the electron distribution and magnetic field distribution in the Universe which would tell us about how the Universe built up structures, such as galaxies, galaxy clusters, and so on", explained Tendulkar. But where can they come from? CHIME measures scattering more precisely than other instruments because it operates at lower frequencies. "But it has to be in some special place tog I've us all the scattering that we see".

That high rate of discovery suggests that FBRs, let alone repeating FBRs, may not be as unique as we think, said Perimeter Institute faculty member Kendrick Smith.

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