Science

Mysterious alien 'fast radio burst' deep space signal traced to nearby galaxy

Mysterious alien 'fast radio burst' deep space signal traced to nearby galaxy”

Astronomers have found a mysterious signal originating from a nearby galaxy that looks very similar to our own galaxy.

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are mysterious flashes of energy observed in the cosmos that last for milliseconds. "FRBs may be made in a large zoo from locations across the universe and only certain conditions need to be visible".

Since 2007, just 85 cosmic radio wave bursts have been detected.

FRBs are typically one-off blasts of radio waves through space, with each one lasting no more than a millisecond. Fast radio bursts are designated as "FRB YYMMDD".

In fact, of the detected FRBs, only four have been associated with a host galaxy and just one of which is repeating.

Then a year ago, scientists announced that the CHIME experiment in Canada had detected a massive eight new repeating FRBs, bringing the number of known repeaters to a total of 10.

The online publication that we mentioned above notes that the new repeating FRB is known as 180916.J0158+65. But this time the source came as a surprise to astronomers, as it defied their theories about fast radio bursts.

And that led them to a normal spiral galaxy called SDSS J015800.28+654253.0. While that sounds incredibly far away, it is seven times closer than the other repeated radio burst and more than ten times closer than non-repeated FRBs that have been tracked.

"We know that this is a star-forming region because we measured ionized gas at that location-and the source of ionization (energy) is consistent with coming from young stars", Hessel told Newsweek.

At half-a-billion light years from Earth, the source of FRB 180916 is around seven times closer than the only other repeating burst researchers have localized, and more than 10 times closer than any of the few non-repeating FRBs scientists have managed to pinpoint.

FRB 180916 was not almost as distorted by the Faraday effect as FRB 121102, which indicates that its location was not as magnetic; and it was found pretty far from the galactic centre.

"The multiple flashes that we witnessed in the first repeating FRB arose from very particular and extreme conditions inside a very tiny (dwarf) galaxy", said astronomer Benito Marcotte of the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC.

"This object's location is radically different from that of not only the previously located repeating FRB, but also all previously studied FRBs", astronomer Kenzie Nimmo of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and lead author of the paper said in a press statement.

It is the second instance of astronomers being able to determine the location of a repeating FRB, the first repeating burst was found in a dwarf galaxy filled with stars and metal. These radio bursts could have resulted from unknown natural phenomena or even alien life. The researchers, however, designed a model after gathering information from various sources which helped in understanding the movement of gases, stars and other materials around the galaxy. This added a new chapter to the mystery surrounding their origin because it is in a very different environment compared with the first ever signal pinpointed, FRB 121102.

"We are at the verge of more such localisations brought about by the upcoming newer telescopes. These will finally allow us to establish the true nature of these sources".



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