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Are aliens trying to contact Earth? Mysterious burst of radio signal is detected from outer space
- Updated: December 27, 2016
Scientists have reported a new wave of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) from deep space.
Fast radio bursts may last only milliseconds, but they astonishingly produce just as much energy as the sun would in an entire day. However, scientists are still unaware of what causes these fast radio bursts.
The waves were detected by researchers from McGill University in Montreal, using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
In their paper, published in The Astrophysical Journal, the researchers, led by Paul Scholz, wrote: ‘We have detected six additional radio bursts from this source: five with the Green Bank Telescope at 2 GHz, and one at 1.4 GHz with the Arecibo Observatory, for a total of 17 bursts from this source.’
The detection follows 11 previously recorded outbursts from the same location, called FRB 121102.
This is the only known repeater of fast radio bursts (FRBs) – radio emissions that appear temporarily and randomly.
Despite there being a number of FRBs from the site, the origin of the bursts is an ongoing puzzle to researchers.
But the researchers say that the repeated outbursts imply that whatever is causing the radio bursts is not a one-time event, such as an explosion or collision.
Instead, they say that flares from a young neutron star – the dense core left behind where a star explodes – are a promising candidate.
The researchers added: ‘Whether FRB 121102 is a unique object in the currently known sample of FRBs, or all FRBs are capable of repeating, its characterisation is extremely important to understanding fast extragalactic radio transients.’
Previously when waves have been detected, astronomers have also asked Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) to take a closer look at whether they could be a message from ET.
But it is unclear if the McGill researchers will ask Seti to help this time.
If there are any intelligent alien life forms out there, Stephen Hawking thinks we’re playing a dangerous game by trying to contact them.
The physicist believes if aliens discovered Earth, they are likely to want to conquer and colonise our planet.
‘If aliens visit us, the outcome could be much like when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,’ he said in an interview.
But co-founder and former director of the Seti Institute, Jill Tarter, doesn’t think this will be the case.
She argues any aliens who have managed to travel across the universe will be sophisticated enough to be friendly and peaceful.
‘The idea of a civilisation which has managed to survive far longer than we have…and the fact that that technology remains an aggressive one, to me, doesn’t make sense,’ she said.