Scientists have said a mysterious radio signal is coming from a nearby galaxy. The signal, they say comes in the form of fast radio bursts from a galaxy that looks strikingly similar to our own, astronomers have announced.
The intense blasts of energy only last milliseconds and are sent through the universe. According to scientists, the signals could be anything from the result of unknown natural phenomena to alien life forms.
The fast radio bursts, or FRBs, were detected over a decade ago in 2007 at Parkes Telescope, Australia. Since then, astronomers have hunted for the source and have pinpointed only a few. The difficult search, they say, is due to the frequency bursts lasting just milliseconds and can come from anywhere in the sky.
So far astronomers have located four precise sources and they think they’ve located another in a nearby galaxy.
“Identifying the host galaxy for FRBs is critical to tell us about what kind of environments FRBs live in, and thus what might actually be producing FRBs,” said Sarah Burke-Spolaor, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy. “This is a question for which scientists are still grasping at straws.”
The first locations of the FRBs came from a small galaxy of metals and newly formed stars, which scientists believe caused the phenomenon. However, the newly found galaxy doesn’t quite fit into this category, meaning that astronomers now have to consider other explanations.
The latest source is called FRB 180916 and is located half-a-billion light years from Earth. This source is said to be seven times closer than the only other FRB that scientists could track down.
The bursts appear to occur every 16 days and are powerful enough to light up the sky.