Astronomers Detect Mysterious Radio Signals From Deep Space


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

The latest signals to be detected reached Earth from a galaxy 1.5 billion light years away.

The signals consist of 13 fast radio bursts, known as "FRBs".

Of more than 60 fast radio bursts detected so far, only one of them has ever repeated.

"And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles - where they're from and what causes them", he said. The telescope, which resembles a set of skateboarding half-pipes, was built as part of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) to record radio signals from outer space. "Scattering" was detected in the fast radio bursts, which is a phenomenon that helps determine more about the environment surrounding the origin.

"An FRB emitted from a merger of two neutron stars, or a neutron star and a black hole, for example, can not repeat". The cause of the signals remains unknown, yet theories include a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly, two neutron stars merging together, and even some form of an alien spaceship. Some have proposed explanations, such as energy being flung as black holes tear stars apart, or perhaps even distant alien civilizations sending out long-range signals in the hopes of finding intelligent life.

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The bursts were first picked up in 2007 (in data archived since 2001) by Australia's Parkes radio telescope, and only a few dozen have been detected since then.

Before CHIME began to gather data, some scientists wondered if the range of radio frequencies the telescope had been created to detect would be too low to pick up fast radio bursts.

The FRBs discovered were omitting unusually low frequencies, with previously detected FRBs having frequencies around 1,400 megahertz and the new discoveries bellow 800 MHz.

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.

"This is good news for radio telescopes that are sensitive at lower radio frequencies", she said. The $16-million investment for CHIME was provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the governments of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, with additional funding from the Dunlap Institute, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. 400 Mhz is the lower limit of the CHIME experiment at the moment, so other FRBs at lower frequencies could simply be going undetected. Scientists don't know where they come from, or what celestial event could be so dramatic yet common enough to produce thousands of bursts every day.

The majority of the FRBs discovered by the telescope showed signs of "scattering", reported - which led the CHIME team to believe the radio bursts are "powerful astrophysical objects".