While many are worried after hearing reports of “mysterious radio signals from deep space,” it is still unclear, where, exactly the origins of the signals.
While scientists have claimed the signals are “fast radio bursts,” or FRBs, despite many theories — their source is not clear.
To give you a bit of background, FRBs last for just a few milliseconds — which makes it hard to study them, as you can imagine.
Astronomer Duncan Lorimer spotted the first FRB in 2007.
A single burst contains the energy of 500 million suns — which leads scientists to believe that it was a singular event that happened out of a one-time event like a super-massive black hole releasing energy or the glow of a dying star or stars collapsing into each other.
But in 2012, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico discovered a repeating FRB later called FRB 121102.
Which, left the previous theory about bursts originating from a one-time event, in the dust.
Scientist have been helped by repeat FRBs to help discover their origins by using a set of telescopes in New Mexico in 2017.
Working at Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) now a second repeat FRB has been spotted by scientists.
The telescope was able to detect 13 new FRBs in just two months — with one FRB that flashed close to six times in a row.
FRBs can also operate like a cosmic radar — which is a radio signal that is sent out and as it hits objects in space, the signal changes — carrying information along with it.
And once the signal is picked out, researchers can use that information to discover what it encountered on its journey.
It also can be used to understand the nature of their galaxies of origin or to map the distribution of matter in the universe.
To detect a FRB, a telescope has to be pointed at the area in the sky were it originates from. But to pinpoint a burst — scientists need to use multiple telescopes and compare the signals to discover its exact location.
And of the many theories on where exactly the FRBs originate — one points to young neutron stars with a very powerful magnetic field, as when the magnetic field of a new-born star changes, it releases energy into the surrounding gas and dust cloud, which then absorbs the energy and later releases it into space.
Another theory is that the signals which on their way to Earth, pass through a dense magnetic plasma cloud — suggesting that they may be close to a massive black hole.
But the most popular (and fun) theory?
Aliens, of course.
Many scientists say that the amount of energy involved as well as the identical nature of signals cannot come from aliens spread across different regions of space.
Head scientist, Pushkar Ganesh Vaidya at Indian Astrobiology Research Centre (IARC) says:
“Of course, there is no consensus about whether this is artificial or natural and that is because this is presently a case of insufficient data and that too of a phenomenon we detected only a decade ago (in 2007). The point is: as our SETI efforts get more serious than before, we are coming across some very interesting possibilities. I personally think that as long as we are investigating from within the scientific framework then some of us must investigate the possibility of alien origins when such a possibility presents itself. FRBs are one such possibility and I am happy to check them out for being some sort of alien navigation or propulsion systems.”
So….aliens could be to blame.
But until we know for sure, you may want to study up and watch Super 8, E.T. or Alien.
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