Uh, is somebody out there? For the first time ever, scientists have detected a repeating pattern of fast radio bursts coming from a nearby galaxy.
Fast radio bursts – or FRBs – are signals of radio waves coming from deep space. Scientists have detected them in the past. But what’s special about this FRB is that it has a pattern!
“Between September 16, 2018 and October 30, 2019, researchers with the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment/Fast Radio Burst Project collaboration detected a pattern in bursts occurring every 16.35 days. Over the course of four days, the signal would release a burst or two each hour. Then, it would go silent for another 12 days,” CNN reported.
So what’s causing this burst? Well, we don’t know yet! Many physicists theorized these bursts came from a major event, like stars colliding.
But a repeating pattern like this one means that FRBs (or at least some of them) do not come from extreme conditions like colliding stars. Patterns like this in astronomy usually come from rotating stars or objects orbiting around each other, causing bursts of signal.
For now, the cause of fast radio bursts is still a mystery. As we collect more data and observe more FRBs, we may just crack the case!
Interested in more space stories like this one? Catch a show in LSC’s Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. A portion of our all-live “Wonders of the Night Sky” show is always set aside for LSC Space News Now stories.
(Photo via Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment)