SALT LAKE CITY — Astronomers revealed Wednesday that they received mysterious signals from a distant galaxy. Don’t freak out.
What happened: The astronomers discovered the radio waves through a telescope in Canada, according to BBC News.
- The astronomers said they received 13 fast radio bursts (known as FRBs), one of which was a repeating signal that came from some source nearly 1.5 billion light-years away, according to a new study.
- The nature and origin of the radio waves remain unknown.
- “Until now, there was only one known repeating fast radio burst," said Ingrid Stairs, an astrophysicist at the University of British Columbia, according to USA Today. "Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there. And with more repeaters and more sources available for study, we may be able to understand these cosmic puzzles — where they’re from and what causes them."
- The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) discovered the FRBs.
What is it?: Scientists remain undecided about what created the blasts. Some believe it could be a neutron star from a magnetic field. A minority of observers considered the possibility of an alien spaceship, BBC News reports.
Science News reports that some astronomers believe this could be intelligent aliens.1 comment on this story
Excitement: Scientists get excited when they see repeating signals because it allows astronomers to make multiple observations of where the signals come from, The Verge reports.
- “These FRBs are really one of the only ways we can probe the intergalactic medium,” Shami Chatterjee, an astronomer at Cornell University, told The Verge. “And that’s why finding more FRBs is so exciting for us.”
Challenges: Close to 5,000 FRBs appear every day. They last less than a millisecond before they disappear, according to National Geographic.