Astronomers are excited over mysterious multiple radio signals emanating from outside of the Milky Way, which are already being heralded as the world’s first verified alien signals from space.
The “fast radio bursts”, including a “double signal”, have left astronomers baffled as to their origins as they analyse the data from the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia. One of the researchers who discovered the unique signals says that she believes the origin could be more amazing than anything recorded previously. Emily Petroff from Swinburne University tweeted: “We have no idea what’s going on, but we know it’s definitely something cool.” Fast radio bursts (FRBs) were first discovered from records in 2007, and we finally saw one in real-time last year. However, there has never, until now, been a double blast.
They are quick-fire bursts of radio energy, originating from great distances away, and, as a result, must have contained a huge amount of energy. The source remains a total mystery.
Seemingly similar readings which excited astronomers earlier this year called perytons at the time were later found to be coming from microwave ovens on Earth being prematurely opened in the canteens of observatories where observations were being taken. The announcement in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society of the five new signals has left the research community on tenet hooks. The team said the double burst FRB (called 121002) had a “clear two-component profile”.
They say each component is similar to the known population of single component FRBs and are separated by 2.4 milliseconds. They added: “Many of the proposed models to explain FRBs use a single high energy eventinvolving compact objects (such as neutron star mergers) and therefore cannot easily explain a two-component FRB.”
The news comes just days after a research paper claimed FRBs were the result of mergers between black holes and neutron stars. FRB 121002 has the largest delay yet recorded of any frequency picked up, suggesting it has an origin of an immense distance away – probably several billion light-years beyond our own galaxy the Milky way. More conventional theories for the bursts include them being created by evaporating black holes, supergiant pulsar pulses or the collapse of epically large stars.
But the team said it was difficult to match any of these with the double bast, suggesting that intelligent origin was a serious possibility. Nigel Watson, author of the UFO Investigations Manual, said: “Every unusual signal from outer space encourages us to wonder if it is from an alien civilisation.
“It would be fantastic if this is an alien signal as the knowledge that we are not alone in this vast universe would have a dramatic impact on our perception of our place in the scheme of things. (…)