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It’s one of the great unknowns that man has contemplated for centuries: Are we alone in the universe, or are there other sentient beings somewhere in the far reaches of outer space, just waiting to make contact with us?
Thanks to the incredible work of an international team of astronomers, we may be a step closer to finding out exactly what does await us in the distant reaches of the stars.
“The international team of astronomers behind the discovery, which is detailed in a newly published paper on the pre-print server arXiv, detected the repeating FRBs using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment radio telescope.
“Six of the newly discovered FRBs repeated only once. Another pinged three times in total — but the eighth produced 10 total bursts.”
The vast majority of FRBs are only detected once, meaning they cannot be as easily tracked. That’s what makes the repeating radio bursts just discovered so exciting. By being repeated, it increases the likelihood that astronomers will be able to locate what galaxy they came from, and the environments that produced them.
Physicist Ziggy Pleunis of McGill University, explained the recent discovery to Science Alert:
“[T]here is a lot of information here for model builders to work with. I think it will help them figure out what produces repeating FRBs. Also, I think our findings will influence the search strategy of other teams that try to discover repeating FRBs.”
The findings from the team of researchers could also help those who study FRBs better determine what exactly might be causing the bursts of signal from far away. Some of the new signals appear to have been from close to our own solar system:
“We can even roughly tell how far away the bursts may have originated based on how dispersed the signal is – the higher these measures, the farther the distance.
“In fact, this is where it gets intriguing, because one of the signals, FRB 180916, has the lowest dispersion seen yet, indicating that it could be nearby.
“‘Even with the biggest telescopes, if it’s closer to you, you always get a better view than if it’s something farther away,’ astronomer Keith Bannister from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, who was not involved in the research, told ScienceAlert.
While there remain more questions that answers, we may well be on the verge of coming to a real answer regarding whether not our planet is the only one featuring advanced life. The radio signals seems to indicate that we aren’t. That alone suggests the need to keep looking.
Learn more about FRBs by watching this video from SciShow Space:
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