Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Alien contact? Mysteriously repeating radio signals captured by Canadian telescope

Alien contact? Mysteriously repeating radio signals captured by Canadian telescope

Media from around the world are calling to ask about her team's out of this world discovery.

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are cosmic radio bursts that last only milliseconds.

"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce". The first FRB was recorded in 2001 and identified in 2007, while the first repeating FRB was detected in 2012. Since then, 36 have been found - 19 previous year alone by researchers using an Australian radio telescope. There have been some fast radio bursts which are found to be speculated for the results of everything that could have been got through the transition of such exploding stars from the side of aliens.

Astronomers have been finding FRB's since 2002, though dozens of discoveries have shed little light on what these signals are or where they originate.

From the new bursts detected by the Canadian astronomers, one repeated six times - apparently from the same location. It left astronomers scratching their heads over an already weird cosmic puzzle.

"That is pretty important, actually", Ingrid Stairs, a UBC astrophysicist involved with the project, says.

The repeating event - designated FRB 180814 - was one of a total of 13 bursts detected over a period of just three weeks during the summer of 2018, while CHIME was in its pre-commissioning phase. In fact, it was only looking at one-quarter of the sky it is able to observe.

It is possible that the repetitive fast Radio bursts arise from disasters, in which their source is destroyed, - said Tendulkar.

For Kendrick Smith, a cosmologist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont., who worked on the software making the detection, FRBs represent a unique challenge. "Our data will break open some of the mysteries of FRBs". While interesting, these new observations, he said, can not tell us about the nature of these sources-at least not yet. These bursts might be more common than we had ever thought because we can't really notice them. FRBs last for just a few milliseconds, and their unpredictable displays make observations notoriously hard. For FRBs to be detected from other galaxies means the signal has to be trillions of times brighter than a pulsar.

"That could mean in some sort of dense clump like a supernova remnant", says team member Cherry Ng, an astronomer at the University of Toronto.

Since FRBs occur so quickly, studying them and identifying the source is hard. In regular FRBs, they emit a single spike. "By detecting and characterising fast radio bursts at different frequencies, we can better understand which theories work and which do not". "So that is exciting". The radio bursts were observed by CHIME at frequencies between 400 megahertz (MHz) and 800 MHz.

Since then, CHIME has been at its maximum capacity, and it is expected to detect many more of the enigmatic pulses now that it is fully operational.

Ingrid Stairs said there has been significant worldwide interest in her team's discovery.

Petroff was also surprised that CHIME found so many FRBs so quickly.

At distances of billions of light years it's obviously very hard to test any of these theories, but detecting more FRBs, especially those that have a habit of repeating, could bring us closer to an explanation.

"It's still too early to tell for sure", he said.

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