In a discovery that could bring astronomers one step closer to discovering the mysteries of our infinite universe, faint but persistent radio signals have been detected coming from another galaxy.
Astronomers have detected new Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) from a galaxy three billion light-years away from Earth, according to a study published in the journal Nature. FRB are intense but brief flashes of radio frequency emissions that can range from a fraction of a millisecond to a few milliseconds. Nobody has been able to figure out where and how they’re originated, with scientists concluding that some mysterious high-energy astrophysical process is involved that is yet to be discovered. FRB release as much energy in a millisecond as the sun puts out in three days.
This new FRB, which is being called FRB20190520B, is only the second one detected ever. The first one was discovered back in 2007.
The latest one was detected using the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) in Gizhou, China. Since its discovery back in 2019, there have been 75 more FRB detected within five months, after which their signal was managed to be localised by the US National Science Foundation’s Karl G Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).
Since then it has been proven that whatever object is sending out these mysterious signals is also responsible for emitting smaller but persistent radio bursts. One theory suggests that the new FRB is newborn and it is surrounded by a dense material that could have been ejected by a supernova explosion that left behind a neutron star.
“The FRB field is moving very fast right now and new discoveries are coming out monthly. However, big questions still remain, and this object is giving us challenging clues about those questions,” writes Sarah Burke-Spolaor, co-author of the study.
Does this mean that there is a chance that there’s alien lifeforce out there that could be trying to contact us? Maybe. But we wouldn’t advise challenging your childhood bullies to a basketball match, in hopes that these alien life forces would give you superhuman strength and a hot body á la Rohit from Koi…Mil Gaya. Scientists are still trying to figure out the source of the FRB. But these discoveries are letting them slowly piece together more information about cosmic events like the death of massive and super-massive stars and the merging of neutrons and magnetars.