The light signals occur for several milliseconds and come out of nowhere. The occurrence was first detected in 2007, with only a handful of FRB incidents happening since.
In April this year, the latest rapid frequency bursts were sighted; their explanation still remains unknown. That has, however, not stopped people from speculating what the mysterious pulsing signals could be. Theories include the light being caused by colliding neutron stars and, predictably, that aliens are trying to make contact with us.
Due to the fact FRB’s occur sporadically and temporarily, these radio emissions are not only difficult to find but they are almost impossible to study.
It was in 2007 when the first FRB was picked up by radio telescopes. The temporary nature of the radio messages meant it took time for scientists to even agree that the signal wasn’t caused by a glitch in one of the telescope’s instruments. The signal lasted for just five milliseconds. It was named the Lorimer Burst after Duncan Lorimer, an astrophysicist at West Virginia University in Morgantown who made the discovery.
“This is something that’s completely unprecedented,” Lorimer noted at the time.
From Billions of Light Years Away?
Sharing his excitement about the five millisecond blip on the cosmic radar screen, Lorimer went on to tell Space.com that his team members were “confused and excited”. He said they believed the discovery could “open up a whole new research field”.
Despite scientists’ estimating that there should be around 10,000 FRBs occurring each day, it took until 2012 for another incident to be recorded. In 2012, another FRB was heard on the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia.
Seven years following the first recorded radio burst, scientists remain equally confused over the phenomenon.
As a report in the Daily Mail states, the recent radio signal was so dispersed that scientists believe it could have come from possibly billion of light years away. The 2014 FRB discovery was found using the huge radio dish situated in Puerto Rico.
The cosmic radio bursts picked up on the Puerto Rico satellite may have been confirmation that the signals are real and not merely a blip on the radar screen. However, astronomers are no closer to unraveling the mystery of what is the cause of FRBs.
A number of theories have surfaced about what is causing the milliseconds signal. One of the most popular, and perhaps most logical of the explanations, is that the radio frequency could have been caused by the collision of two neutron stars.
Another possible explanation is that the strange signals are caused by rapidly spinning stars occurring from outside the solar system. According to Solar System Quick, pulsar planets orbit around neutron stars. These highly dense and swiftly spinning stars are “the primary remains of a large star following a supernova explosion”.
The premise that FRBs are caused by such rapidly spinning stars holds some weight. The theory’s believability is due to the fact that, in 1967, British astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell was left dumbfounded when she detected pulsing signals occurring from outside the solar system. Bell Burnell clung onto the view the signals could have been caused by aliens. They were later proven to be pulsars.
Nigel Watson, author of the UFO Investigations Manual, is intent to revive the extraterrestrial intelligence theory as being the cause of the strange radio frequencies.
“This extraordinary finding either indicates an as yet unknown or unusual astronomical phenomenon, or it could indicate that this is a vast alien communication network, and the universe is teeming with intelligent life forms,” Watson told the Daily Mail.
As the British UFO expert admits, each time a mysterious signal occurs from outer space, it “encourages us to wonder if it is an alien civilization”.
From the suggestion that aliens built ancient Egyptian pyramid stones, to so-called NASA evidence that we are not alone in the universe, when it comes to stories of aliens and UFOs, we can’t seem to have too many.
Despite the endless theories, sightings, so-called discoveries and debate about extraterrestrial life, alien existence is no closer to being confirmed. It will take many more studies and observations to fully determine where the mysterious Fast Radio Bursts are really coming from.