Proof of LIFE: Scientists record mysterious radio signals from deep space

Scientists Have Discovered a Mysterious Repeating Radio Signal from Deep Space

The discovery is a sign that there could be even more repeating FRBs out there waiting to be found - and maybe even an answer to the mystery of their source.

The findings were announced by Deborah Good, an astronomer at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington on Wednesday. Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there.

The new FRBs were detected by the brand new CHIME instrument, or Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, located in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. The first FRB was recorded in 2001 and identified in 2007, while the first repeating FRB was detected in 2012.

One of the newly detected bursts is a rare "repeater" - researchers saw six flashes coming from the same spot in the sky, which they hope will make it easier to pin down the source of the signal.

It's only the second time scientists have detected such a consecutive radio burst, reports the BBC. The Canadian astronomers say they've found a second repeating signal that is distinct from the first one.

Of more than 60 FRBs detected to date, such repeating bursts have only been picked up once before, by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico in 2015.

Some of the signal-scattering patterns suggest that the sources of the bursts have to be in special types of locations - for example, in supernova remnants, star-forming regions or around black holes.

Of the 13 new FRBs, seven of them were, unexpectedly, detected at 400 megahertz (MHz), the lowest radio frequencies measured so far for these bursts.

A number of speculations have been made about what could be causing the radio bursts - with theories ranging from stars exploding to alien life, however, currently, there is little evidence to prove either.

Having two sets of repeating bursts could also allow scientists to understand what distinguishes them from single bursts, helping them understand more about their source and watch for future blasts. CHIME scans the entirety of the Northern Hemisphere every day and is expected to pick up dozens of FRBs per month when operating at full capacity.

The repeater detected by CHIME bears a strong resemblance to FRB 121102, said Dunlap Institute astrophysicist Cherry Ng, lead author of the second Nature paper.

At distances of billions of light years it's obviously very hard to test any of these theories, but detecting more FRBs, especially those that have a habit of repeating, could bring us closer to an explanation.

The CHIME team, which designed and built the telescope, includes 14 scientists from the University of B.C. alongside others from McGill University, the University of Toronto, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the National Research Council of Canada.

Added Landecker: "We haven't solved the problem, but it's several more pieces in the puzzle".

"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce".

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