Mysterious signal from deep space goes hyperactive

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Mysterious signal from deep space goes hyperactive

"The extraordinary capabilities of the backend receiver, which is able to record several gigahertz of bandwidth at a time, split into billions of individual channels, enable a new view of the frequency spectrum of FRBs, and should shed additional light on the processes giving rise to FRB emission", says Vishal Gajjar, a researcher on the Breakthrough Listen project.

While looking for signs of intelligent life in the universe, astronomers have detected 15 fast radio bursts from a distant galaxy.

The radio emissions were detected by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia on August 26 during a five-hour-long series of 30-minute scans that were conducted as part of the Breakthrough Listen campaign.

Fast radio bursts instantly disappear after being first spotted by radio telescopes, making them nearly impossible for scientists to understand and study. There could be many non-extraterrestrial explanations, including the possibility they're just coming from rotating neutron stars with extremely strong magnetic fields. On August 26, astronomers assured that these signals reached the advanced telescope equipment from a very far galaxy, considered to be located around 3 billion light-years away. Discovered on November 2, 2012, FRB 121102 is believed to be the source of these 15 radio bursts. Over five hours, the instrument gathered 400 TB of data, scanning a frequency band of between 4 and 8 GHz.

And in 2016, the repeater was the first FRB to have its location pinpointed with sufficient precision to allow its host galaxy to be identified. This large dataset was searched for signatures of short pulses from the source over a broad range of frequencies, with a characteristic dispersion, or delay as a function of frequency, caused by the presence of gas in space between us and the source. "Life on Earth consisted of only single-celled organisms, and it would be another billion years before even the simplest multi-cellular life began to evolve".

Another idea was that these high-energy pulses were thrown off by cataclysmic events like supernovae, but a signal named FRB 121102 took the air out of that theory when it was found to buck the trend of being a one-hit wonder. After the detection of the new Radio Bursts, the follow-on examinations and analysis are being encouraged, especially at higher radio frequencies.

One of the astronomers, Avi Loeb, chairs the advisory committee for Breakthrough Starshot, an initiative that's related to Breakthrough Listen and aims to send swarms of interstellar probes through the Alpha Centauri system ... propelled by directed energy beams. FRBs were first discovered about 15 years ago, and in the years since they've been detected a couple dozen times.

"It's not surprising that we've found 15 more from this source; we've been detecting many of them over the past few years", Paul Scholz, an astronomer who studies FRBs with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, B.C., told CBC News.

"We do know that the universe is capable of producing intelligent civilizations that can produce technology", said Siemion.

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