FRBs are extremely energetic pulses of radio waves that have been puzzling scientists for a couple years now. Could these be signals being sent from extraterrestrial civilizations far away from us?
Breakthrough Listen is an international collaborative project currently underway that specializes in looking for these FRBs. They were apparently able to detect 15 high-frequency pulses during just 30-minutes of scans from a repeating source, FRB 121102. FRB stands for Fast Radio Bursts and bursts like this have never been seen at such a high frequency.
The project used the Green Bank Telescope to carry out their research, this telescope is capable of recording several gigahertz of bandwidth at a time. The team through this was able to spot these emissions at a higher frequency. During just 5 hours of observation, they were able to obtain around 400 terabytes of data. They are in the process of going through all of it right now.
“As well as confirming that the source is in a newly active state, the high resolution of the data obtained by the Listen instrument will allow measurement of the properties of these mysterious bursts at a higher precision than ever possible before.”
After the location of FRB 121102 was pinpointed to a strange galaxy 2.4 billion light-years away researchers were able to unravel this mystery at least in a small amount. This host galaxy is a lot smaller than our galaxy, but seems to be producing stars at a mind-blowing rate. The signal comes from a large stellar nursery so researchers believe it could be a very powerful magnetic neutron star. With that being said, there are tons of other theories on this, some of which are quite interesting, to say the least.
It seems FRB 121102 will be surprising us for years to come. With or without the presence of aliens this is an amazing find. For more information on Breakthrough Listen’s project check out the video below.