WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A group of astronomers and astrophysicists yesterday released preliminary results on strange signals coming from a distant galaxy.
- These signals, called fast radio bursts(FRBs), were first detected in 2001, and astronomers are still puzzled by the phenomena.
- Experts shut speculating reports that the strange signals were coming from aliens.
On Saturday, a telescope in West Virginia picked up strange signals coming from a distant galaxy. Astrophysicists and astronomers made some observations and shared their preliminary findings yesterday.
Originally searching for proof of alien life, researchers found something else. They picked up 15 strong radio signals coming from a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light-years away.
Astronomers labeled the newly active “dot”, FRB 121102. It signals fast radio bursts (FRBs).
FRBs were first detected in 2001, then in 2015, but astronomers have still no idea what they are. They are just super fast, very powerful bursts of radio signals.
Emily Petroff, a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy says “The repeating FRB source is an anomaly in the population right now; it’s the only one of its kind.”
“We’re trying hard to find more,” Petroff added. “Keep in mind that the population is still really small. Only 30 FRB sources have been found, from 29 of those we’ve only seen one burst, from one of them we’ve seen over 200!”
Getting 15 bursts from the same origin in a short period of time is remarkable. These bursts are about seven gigahertz, coming in at a much higher frequency than normal.
“Bursts from this source have never been seen at this high a frequency,” Breakthrough Listen’s astrophysicist and director Andrew Siemion said in a statement.
Breakthrough Listen said in a press release that; “Possible explanations for FRBs range from outbursts from rotating neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields, to more speculative ideas that they are directed energy sources used by extraterrestrial civilizations to power spacecraft.”
Talking about aliens after this event is not surprising because Breakthrough Listen’s $100 million project is set in finding proof of extraterrestrial civilizations.
But there are other ways to research possible explanations for the FRBs, although most of them are not gearing towards proof of aliens.
The source could be a star as big as a city but with a mass larger than the sun. Neutron stars rotate on their axis and can sometimes hurl bright pulses. They also have powerful magnetic fields, the reason why they’re called magnetars. A few scientists believe that FRB’s could be produced on the early stage of a magnetar’s development.
Even if the FRBs are not likely to be linked to aliens, it is exciting to learn new discoveries about our vast, mysterious universe.