E.T. Calling? Astronomers Pick Up Radio Signals From Space

CBS Local — Have astronomers located life in the final frontier? A series of unexplained radio signals has been discovered coming from a source in a galaxy three billion light years away.

Scientists with the Breakthrough Listen initiative say they detected 15 repeating, fast radio bursts (FRBs) coming from the same mysterious source they recorded an FRB from in 2012. In 2015, the same source became the first object to ever recorded repeating a radio burst.

The Aug. 26 discovery also comes from the only source whose location has been positively confirmed in space. The dwarf galaxy the signal was found in is much smaller than the Milky Galaxy, with about half the number of stars in it.

“The possible implications are two folds,” Dr. Vishal Gajjar of Breakthrough Listen said. “This detection at such a high frequency helps us scrutinize many of FRB 121102’s origin models.”

Researchers at Harvard say the power of the signals could be making it easier for astronomers to find than others in the cosmos.

“Previously we thought there wasn’t much emission at high or low frequencies, but now it looks like there is,” says Professor Avi Loeb at Harvard University. “It’s twice as high as the typical frequency that was previously claimed for this repeater.”

Scientists continue to investigate the significance of so many bursts coming at once.

“I have yet to see anyone offer up a good explanation for how that might happen,” said Peter Williams of Harvard. With three billion light years between Earth and the mystery source, it’s a fairly strong possibility it will still be a long time before humans meet the sender face to face.

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