A New Batch of Anomalous Repeating Extragalactic Signals

Astronomers at the Green Bank Telescope have detected 15 new mysterious fast radio burst (FRB) signals, repeating over a matter of hours.

These strong but extremely short-lived signals first detected 10 years ago can’t be explained by any known celestial object, and now the mystery has deepened even further.

Theories about FRBs include pulsars and magnetars – but the problem there is that these signals pulse repeatedly, while the majority of FRBs are a one-and-done deal.

Of course, as with any astronomical anomaly, aliens have been trotted out as an explanation, with Harvard astronomers suggesting that we could be picking up noise from radio-powered propulsion systems for spacecraft.

Early on the morning of August 26, an unprecedented 15 new pulses were detected by researchers at Breakthrough Listen, an initiative monitoring for signals of possible intelligent extraterrestrial origin.

The signals were so strong that the Breakthrough Listen team sent out an Astronomer’s Telegram urging the scientific community to check it out, saying “these observations may indicate FRB 121102 is currently in a heightened activity state, and follow-on observations are encouraged.”

In the unlikely event that it is aliens, we still shouldn’t hold out hope of communicating with them: given the enormous distance involved, these signals left their source some three billion years ago, so they probably stopped waiting for a reply long before our ancestors crawled out of the oceans. Still, there’s plenty to learn from the discovery.

Source: Fifteen repeating extragalactic signals deepen the mystery of fast radio bursts