The search for extraterrestrial life is constantly suffering from a number of set-backs. Severe underfunding is one of them, but not by far the biggest. The lack of advanced enough technology is one big issue, as is the situation of the stars at which we’re looking. And you most likely know what I mean by that.
Since outer space is so large, the light we’re seeing from observed stars is hundreds of millions or even billions of years old. This means that the stars SETI (The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and NASA are observing are probably long dead, and that the signals we send and receive are equally old.
So here is where the FRBs come in. FRBs, or fast radio bursts, are mysterious radio blips that originate in deep space and that are occasionally picked up by Earth scientists. Despite their source still remaining a mystery, one theory for the origin of fast radio bursts was disproved.
Because these signals are so powerful that they travel for millions or even billions of light years, astronomers assumed that they were caused by huge cosmic events, like stars exploding. But it turns that it’s not quite like that. According to the Cornell University team behind the study,
Until now, scientists believed these bursts were isolated, singular events–one-time explosions from the distant corners of the universe…. [but] astronomers now confirm that at least some of these FRB sources emit repeated pulses.
This research shows for the first time that there can be multiple FRBs from the same place in the sky–with the same pulse dispersion or distance. Whatever produces the FRB can’t be destroyed by the burst, because otherwise, what would produce the next pulse?
Of course, since the researchers don’t have any clues about the source of the space travelling fast radio bursts, some are even assuming it to be aliens. And for good reason, too, since if all explanations suggesting that they are naturally occurring fall through, it would mean one thing – that they are artificial, human or non-human.
But other scientists aren’t convinced that all natural explanations already fell through. Some think that the culprits might actually be neutron stars, as the bursts are probably too powerful to be generated by anything else other than a star or maybe a black hole.
And they are indeed powerful, with a single millisecond long burst emitting as much energy as the sun would in 10,000 years. With far more powerful telescopes ready to be launched this year, researchers are hoping that they will have an easier time figuring out what exactly produces these powerful fast radio bursts.
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