For decades, mankind has been searching for a sign of life, other than what’s seen on planet Earth. In the ever expanding universe, it is hard to imagine that we are the only living creatures. With at least one hundred billion galaxies, the chances of another life existing is high. With NASA making groundbreaking discoveries with their expeditions, mankind is achieving far more than we have ever achieved. One such feat was achieved by Canadian scientists when they detected a set of signals emanating from 1.5 billion light years away.
The cosmic phenomena’s discovery was noted in the journal Nature.
This was not the first time the radio signals were detected. The event was reported once before, by a different telescope. Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are radio emissions that appear temporarily and randomly. These fast bursts of signals not only make them hard to detect, but also difficult to study. The radio burst, which repeated its signal six times, was detected among 13 other so-called Fast Radio Bursts, or FRBs, in July and August of last year.
The very unusual repeating signal was coming from the same source about 1.5 billion light years away.
Apart from being hard to find, the flashes were also flung out with the same amount of energy the sun takes 12 months to produce. “Knowing that there is another, suggests that there could be more out there,” said Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles – where they’re from and what causes them.”
Experts have been debating the source behind the flashes of signals. So far, many came up with theories such as black holes or super-dense neutron stars, while others came up with some outlandish theories.
The CHIME observatory, located in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, consists of four 100 meter long, semi-cylindrical antennas, which scan the entire northern sky each day.
The first FRB’s were detected in 2007, following a review of telescope data that had been collected in 2001. These repeat bursts are consistent with originating from a single position in the sky, with the same dispersion measure, the researchers’ report states of the detected “repeater”. Since their discovery, only several dozen FRBs, which last about 1 millisecond, have been detected; according to the NPR.
Where they come from is unknown but scientists suspect that these radio waves originate from black hole activity or solar flares that travel from billions of light years away. There are a handful who believe that the signals are evidence of advanced alien technology.
“We have more ideas of what they could be than we have actual detected fast radio bursts,” explains Dustin Lang, a computational scientist with Ontario’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics whose software helped detect the FRBs.
The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope, which is touted as one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world.
Just over a week after the CHIME telescope was activated and during the testing phase was when the 13 new bursts were detected. The telescope was not even running at its full capacity during the discovery.
Astronomers now know that FRB sources can produce low-frequency radio waves, and those low-frequency waves can escape their environment and are not too scattered to be detected by the time they reach the Earth. CHIME team member Tom Landecker, from the National Research Council of Canada, said in the same statement.
One thing astronomers are certain of is the fact that the signals are not a glitch in one of the telescope’s instruments and that they are indeed from an unknown origin, far beyond our eyes can see. (source)