Mysterious Radio Burst Detected from the Far Reaches of the Universe
Since 2007, astronomers have continued to hear unexplained, powerful radio signals from the deep reaches of space. These signals, called fast radio bursts (FRBs), come through loud and clear in exceptionally short lengths, usually a thousandth of a second, then disappear mysteriously.
FRBs remain one of the greatest cosmic mysteries to date, and since 2007, astronomers have received dozens of these strange signals. For years, astronomers have tried to decode where they come from, and what causes. Now, for the first time, they have pinpointed the exact location of an FRB, finding it originating in the far reaches of the galaxy 4 billion light-years away.
The FRB, titled 180924, was a powerful signal that lasted for just a fraction of a second but was still picked up by delicate instruments here on Earth. The burst was picked up by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, an array of 36 radio telescopes working together to scan the sky and listen for radio signals.
By using impressive technology and ingenious engineering, the research team was able to trace the location of the signal, essentially akin to finding a needle in a very large haystack. The team was able to pinpoint the signal’s origin from a galaxy very similar to our own Milky Way. While galaxies are unimaginably massive, the team was able to pinpoint it coming from near the center of this strange galaxy.
The cause of the FRBs is still very much up for debate. Speculation ranges from explosive neutron stars, exotic magnetars, or intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations or sending out messages across the vast expanse of the cosmos. Whatever it is, it is certain that the cause of the FRBs remains very much a mystery to modern astronomers.
Despite this, the team behind this incredible discovery is keen to keep their minds open to better understand this strange cosmic phenomenon. They believe that studying FRBs can help us better understand the universe, and who knows, maybe we really are hearing from extraterrestrials. Until then, the team at the Australian Square Array continue to pour over these findings in hopes of unlocking its mysteries.