Breakthrough in search for alien life as scientists pinpoint exact location of mysterious fast radio burst that ‘could be signal from ET’

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Breakthrough in search for alien life as scientists pinpoint exact location of mysterious fast radio burst that 'could be signal from ET'



THE ORIGIN of a mysterious celestial radio pulse has finally been pinpointed by astronomers and they say it came from a distant galaxy several billion light years away.
This is the first time ever that scientists have been able to find the exact location of a non-repeating fast radio burst (FRB) and it is a step closer to finding out what produces them.
2 Artist’s impression of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope finding a fast radio burst and determining its precise location.Credit: CSIRO/Dr Andrew Howells
Some scientists have suggested that the bursts could be from rapidly rotating neuron stars but others think they are messages from aliens.
The Australian led international team of researchers used the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) new radio telescope, based in Australia.
CSIRO lead author Dr Keith Bannister said: “This is the big breakthrough that the field has been waiting for since astronomers discovered fast radio bursts in 2007.”
Since the first fast radio burst was discovered, 85 more similar bursts have been detected and most of them are a one off but some occur repeatedly.
2 This is the radio telescope that was used in the studyCredit: Wikimedia Commons/CSIRO
Once the galaxy from which the first burst originated was located, it was then imaged by three of the world’s largest optical telescopes and the results of this have been published in the journal Science.
Astronomers were able to locate a galaxy were repeated radio bursts were coming from in 2017 but the origin of a single FRB has never been found until now because this task is much harder.
This is because FRBs last less than a millisecond when they reach Earth.
In an attempt to solve this problem Dr Bannister and his team developed new technology that enables their radio telescope to freeze any data from signals it picks up less than a second after they appear.
This enabled them to determine that the FRB, called 180924, came from the outskirts of a Milky Way sized galaxy, which is about 3.6 billion light-years away.
They also know that whatever caused the radio burst is 13,000 light years from the centre of the galaxy.
Dr Bannister said: “If we were to stand on the Moon and look down at the Earth with this precision, we would be able to tell not only which city the burst came from, but which postcode – and even which city block.”
The cause of the FRB remains unknown but scientists have lots of theories ranging from black holes to alien life trying to contact us.
The scientists now hope to use their knowledge of the origin of the FRB to measure the amount of matter in intergalactic space, which could reveal material that astronomers have struggled to locate for decades.
What are FRBs, and why are they important?Here’s what you need to know…

FRBs, or fast radio bursts, are a mysterious space phenomenon
They’re very quick radio bursts that last just a few milliseconds (or thousandths of seconds)
They’re detected as huge spikes of energy that change in strength over time
The first one was discovered back in 2007, found by looking back through space survey data
Lots of FRBs have been found since then
There’s also one FRB source that is sending out repeated bursts – and no one is quite sure why
In fact, scientists have struggled to explain exactly what causes any FRB in the first place
Theories include rapidly rotating neutron stars, black holes, and even alien life
FRBs are important simply because they’re so baffling to experts
Unlocking the secrets of what causes them will give us a much better understanding of what goes on beyond our galaxy
And if it does turn out that some other life-form is causing these FRBs, it would be a world-changing discovery

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