Space: Astronomers discover 'alien' radio signals repeating on a 16-day cycle

Eloise Marshall
February 15, 2020

The first 28 cycles were observed between September 2018 and October 2019 using the CHIME radio telescope in British Columbia. And usually when they repeat, it's sporadic or in a cluster, according to previous observations. Over the course of four days, the signal would release a burst or two each hour.

Researchers taking a look at knowledge from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project (CHIME/FRB) first noticed this FRB, referred to as FRB 180916.J0158+65, in 2019. They traced this FRB again to a comparatively close by the spiral galaxy.

For the first time, scientists in Canada have discovered a pattern in a series of signals coming from a galaxy half a billion light-years away.

(Gray News) - For the first time, researchers have discovered a pattern of radio signal bursts coming from a single location in space. Then, it would go silent for another 12 days. In January 2020, they revealed a paper within the journal Nature that reanalyzed outdated knowledge and located multiple bursts from FRB 180916.J0158+65.

The researchers detailed their findings in a pre-print article published on arXiv, ahead of receiving peer review.

Last year, the collaboration detected eight new repeating signal sources, including this one.

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Researchers are tracing the origin of these mysterious bursts but so far, they have traced myriad sources every burst.

Since it was the discovery in 2017, the signals have repeated steadily, and now it adds up the mystery quotient surrounding this FRB. These bursts occur in a regular pattern.

The origin of FRBs hasn't been established yet, although the dominant theories regarding them suggest the signals are produced by rapidly rotating bodies such as neutron stars or black holes. They have considered the orbital motion of a star or an object that may be acting as a companion in the outskirts of the galaxy.

Neutron stars are the smallest in the universe, the remnants of supernovae. OB-type stars are short-lived hot, massive stars. The combination of the interaction between the two, as well as the wind coming off of the OB-star, could be a factor in the cause of the repeating FRB pattern.

Understanding fast radio bursts can also help astronomers learn more about the universe itself. They are said to be caused by unknown, extreme, and unusual places in space.

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