March 3, 2016 – Astronomers claim to have detected repeating radio signals from outside the solar system.
The possibility of alien life somewhere in deep space remains a tantalising prospect for scientists as they continue to scan the galaxy for potential messages, or radio bursts, sent from intelligent life.
And now researchers at Cornell University say they have discovered repeated 10 millisecond-long “fast radio bursts” (FRBs) after sifting through archive data caught by the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico.
Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico
“We’re showing that whatever battery drives FRBs, it can recharge in minutes,” said James Cordes, an astronomy professor at the university.
“The energy of the event becomes very problematic. We’re detecting these FRBs from very far away, which means that they are intrinsically very bright.”
Cornell scientists had believed these bursts were singular events but were surprised to find that at least some of these FRB sources emit repeated pulses.
Senior researcher Shami Chatterjee told the Cornell Chronicle: “This research shows for the first time that there can be multiple FRBs from the same place in the sky – with the same pulse dispersion or distance.
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“Whatever produces the FRB can’t be destroyed by the burst, because otherwise, what would produce the next pulse?”
Professor Cordes added: “Only a few astrophysical sources can produce bursts like this, and we think they are most likely neutron stars in other galaxies.”
The findings have been released days after another research team claimed to have traced radio waves back to its source for the first time.
However, the findings have been questioned by other researchers who believe the signal could be related to activity associated with a supermassive black hole.