Mysterious Radio Signals Detected from Deep Space

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This particular fast radio burst (FRB), called FRB 121102, is of particular interest as it is the only known one to be repeating, something that astronomers can't yet explain.

Backed by Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Hawking, and the billionaire entrepreneur Yuri Milner, The Breakthrough Listen initiative was able to record these odd signals thanks to the Green Bank Telescope, in West Virginia, the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia, and the Automated Planet Finder of the Lick Observatory, in Mt Hamilton, California.

Over the past week, FRB 121102 has flared up to a level of activity that's never been seen before.

While we know the general location of FRB 121102 - a dwarf galaxy about 3 billion light years away - we don't quite know yet what generates these sounds.

The Breakthrough Listen team used the Green Bank Telescope to observe FRB 121102, which was first discovered in 2012. This is the first time bursts from this source have been seen at these frequencies.

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The unexplained signals from the other side of the universe known as fast radio bursts are a rarely observed phenomenon and only one of them has been picked up a few times. Sometimes those signals repeat, months or years apart.

Analysis by Dr. Gajjar and the Listen team revealed 15 new pulses from FRB 121102.

Breakthrough Listen, a scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilisations beyond Earth, detected 15 brief but powerful radio pulses. In 2016, managed to localize the signal source - a dwarf galaxy that is removed from the Earth at a distance of about three billion light years, mass of the Sun 40-70 million times, but 10 times smaller and a thousand times lighter than the milky Way. Over five hours, the instrument gathered 400 TB of data, scanning a frequency band of between 4 and 8 GHz. "Previously, we thought there wasn't much emission at high or low frequencies, but now it looks like there is", Harvard University theoretical physicist Avi Loeb told New Scientist.

It's so far away that the signals detected here today left their source at a time when life on Earth was limited to single-cell organisms. "It should be noted that they can still be valid for other FRBs".

Today, the nature of fast radio pulses is unknown. The randomness of their appearance in a so-short period convert them in such a mystery, even scientists believed at the beginning that they were just glitches in one of the radio telescopes, instead of real signals coming from the space and being heard by the instruments. Two, whatever happened has happened across a span of years; remember, these radio waves have to travel across space to be picked up by our telescope. "While it would be unwise to exclude the possibility that there are is other intelligent, technologically-capable, life in our universe, it is also unwise to immediately ascribe any new and poorly-understood astronomical phenomena to the work of alien life".