A team of Canadian scientists - including several from B.C. - has recorded only the second ever repeating radio burst from outside our galaxy.
Popular explanations for FRBs include rapidly spinning neutron stars with strong magnetic fields (known as magnetars), mergers of highly dense objects, collapsed stars, supermassive black holes, and - much more speculatively-extraterrestrial civilizations.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada said they've discovered the second so-called "repeating fast radio burst" (FRB) ever recorded, according to a news release published January 9.
Loeb proposed a series of suggestions that completely smashed the "scientific firewall"; he theorized that FRBs might be "evidence of incredibly advanced alien technology". One of the signals repeated six times from the same location.
"With CHIME mapping the entire northern hemisphere every day, we're bound to find more repeaters over time", Stairs said.
From our limited understanding, we know that FRBs are extremely short and high-powered bursts of radio energy that were first observed in 2007. One FRB in particular, FRB 121102, is special because it's the only one that seems to be repeating its signal blasts on a regular basis.
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Unlike typical FRBs that come and go, the discovery of a repeating FRB is vital to increasing our understanding of them, as we are able to train our radio telescopes towards them to study them further.
Astrophysicists detailed the data recorded by CHIME in two different papers published this week in the journal Nature.
The FRBs discovered were omitting unusually low frequencies, with previously detected FRBs having frequencies around 1,400 megahertz and the new discoveries bellow 800 MHz.
Constructed in British Columbia, CHIME is composed of four, 100-meter long half-pipe cylinders of metal mesh, which reconstruct images of the sky by processing the radio signals recorded by more than a thousand antennas. The signals travel billions of light-years through the cosmos but only last a fraction of a second, making them hard to study. Many theories have been thrown out to explain them - one Harvard University professor even suggested they might be signs of alien life.
The only other known repeated radio burst was captured in 2012 and originated in a galaxy 2.5 billion light-years away from Earth, Nature reported.
That high rate of discovery suggests that FBRs, let alone repeating FBRs, may not be as unique as we think, said Perimeter Institute faculty member Kendrick Smith.
"We have discovered a second repeater and its properties are very similar to the first repeater".