Radio Signals Detected From Outer Space

Muriel Hammond
January 11, 2019

Probably most exciting of the new bursts is one that scientists saw repeat six times, apparently from the same location.

Some, including Prof Avi Loeb, from the Harvard-Smithsonian centre for astrophysics, have posited theories that they could even be evidence of incredibly advanced alien technology, the Guardian reported.

The CHIME researchers are working with an array of antennas in central New Mexico to pin down the galaxy to which the second repeater belongs.

Astronomers have detected dozens over the past decade - and have just announced they've found more of them, including a rare repeating signal.

"When the first repeater was found, we didn't know if that was a unique object in the universe or if there was a class of these things, or if maybe all of the fast radio bursts actually were repeated, but numerous bursts were too faint for our telescopes to pick up".

"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce", said CHIME team member Dr. Arun Naidu, a researcher at McGill University. They don't know whether the bursts are like flashbulbs, lighting up the sky in every direction, or focused beams, which would require less energy but must be more frequent for Earth to see so many of them.

The telescope consists of four adjacent cylindrical reflectors and 256 dual-polarization atennas, which receive radiation from a large swatch of sky.

What happened: The astronomers discovered the radio waves through a telescope in Canada, according to BBC News.


The repeating signals are brief but powerful phenomena, and they are estimated to be energetically comparable to the total output of the sun over 100 years, Space.com noted.

Astrophysicists detailed the data recorded by CHIME in two different papers published this week in the journal Nature.

The detection by CHIME of FRBs at lower frequencies means some of these theories will need to be reconsidered. Dwindling funds from the USA government and construction of bigger, more powerful telescopes are threatening this telescope's future. Most of the FRBs previously detected had been found at frequencies near 1400 MHz, well above the Canadian telescope's range of 400 MHz to 800 MHz. "That tells us something about the environments and the sources", said CHIME team member Dr. Tom Landecker, a scientist at the National Research Council of Canada.

Radio signals have been detected from deep in outer space.

While the idea that FRBs are a sign of alien activity hasn't been entirely ruled out, the majority of experts think chances are pretty slim. "The closest analogs we have in our own galaxies (pulsars) are more than a trillion times fainter", Tendulkar said about the repeating FRB.

Stairs added: "Knowing where they are will enable scientists to point their telescopes at them, creating an opportunity to study these mysterious signals in detail".

"But we should also avoid a knee-jerk reaction to such discoveries - it 'can't be aliens, therefore is isn't'".

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