Mysterious repeating radio signal is detected from far outside our galaxy

Rodiano Bonacci
Gennaio 11, 2019

A telescope in Canada picked up mysterious signals emanating from a distant galaxy. "When the first repeater was found, we didn't know if that was a unique object in the universe or if there was a class of these things, or if maybe all of the fast radio bursts actually were repeated, but numerous bursts were too faint for our telescopes to pick up". Those include: a neutron star with a very strong magnetic field that is spinning very rapidly and two neutron stars merging together.

We may soon find out thanks to some mysterious signals that were recently picked up by a telescope in British Columbia. The amount of scattering observed by the CHIME team led them to conclude that the sources of FRBs are powerful astrophysical objects more likely to be in locations with special characteristics.

In 2017, Professor Avi Loeb from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics his colleague Manasvi Lingam proposed that FRBs could be leakage from planet-sized alien transmitters, reported The Guardian.

Additionally, "this second source shows burst behavior (i.e. multiple structures in the burst) that is extremely similar to the first repeating FRB and which is different from all the single FRBs", Tendulkar said. The discovery is significant because it's only the second time ever a repeating signal has been observed by scientists.

"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce", said CHIME scientist Arun Naidu of McGill University.

These are fast radio bursts, some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astronomy.

This repetitive FRB is the second of its kind to ever be discovered - the first was found in 2015.

Artist's impression of a Fast Radio Burst (FRB) reaching Earth.

Theories range from highly magnetized neutron stars blasted by gas streams from a nearby supermassive black hole, to signatures of technology developed by an advanced civilisation.

He said: "Until now, there was only one known repeating FRB".

Shriharsh Tendulkar, an astronomer from the McGill Space Institute and a co-author of the new study, said radio frequencies help scientists understand possible emission mechanisms, or processes, of FRBs, and also the effects that the radio waves encounter as they travel through space.

CHIME maps the entire northern hemisphere every day, said Stairs, meaning it's only a matter of time before more repeating FRBs are detected.

Nothing intrigues an astronomer more than a deep space mystery, and now a team of 13 researchers from Canada has stumbled on one of the biggest mysteries around.

What corner of the universe these powerful waves come from and the forces that produced them remain unknown. The signals travel billions of light-years through the cosmos but only last a fraction of a second, making them hard to study. "But it has to be in some special place to give us all the scattering that we see".

"This tells us more about the properties of repeaters as a population".

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