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Space & Astronomy

Mysterious signals are coming from deep space

By T.K. Randall
January 10, 2019 · Comment icon 63 comments

Could the signals have an intelligent origin ? Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 ESO / S. Brunier
Astronomers have picked up a very unusual repeating signal from a distant galaxy and nobody knows what it is.
Known as a fast radio burst - the signal is a powerful burst of radio waves that, despite lasting mere milliseconds, generates as much energy as the Sun does in an entire day.

While several of these bursts have been picked up over the last few years, this one - which is coming from a source 1.5 billion light years away - is particularly unusual because it appears to be repeating.

It is only the second time a repeating fast radio burst has ever been detected by scientists and as things stand, its exact nature and origins remain a complete mystery.
It has even been suggested that these repeating signals could be evidence of intelligent aliens.

"Knowing that there is another suggests that there could be more out there," said astrophysicist Ingrid Stairs from the University of British Columbia.

"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."

Source: BBC News | Comments (63)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #54 Posted by saywhat 5 years ago
Wow! Thanks for the info!  
Comment icon #55 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 5 years ago
  I agree with everything you say.  Just try to understand that the object that created this incredible energy release would be the size of a galaxy. Man made??  YIkes!
Comment icon #56 Posted by toast 5 years ago
For example, all objects in our galaxy do (even you), around Sagittarius A*. Well, yes.
Comment icon #57 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 5 years ago
It is perfectly possible to orbit a black hole. If the Sun was replaced with an equally massive black hole there would be no change in Earths orbit..... it would soon get awfully dark and cold though.
Comment icon #58 Posted by Peter B 5 years ago
Sure, it's true that anything can orbit a black hole. But would an object like this have anything orbiting it? (I don't know - I'm not an astrophysicist.) Consider that black holes are likely created at the end of life of the most massive stars - which means stars with the shortest lives, probably measured in barely tens of millions of years. That sort of life span suggests to me they're unlikely to have time to develop anything much of a solar system. Plus, I'm guessing stars like that would have colossal solar winds, meaning they'd quickly disperse any material in the proto-planetary disc. ... [More]
Comment icon #59 Posted by Anna101 5 years ago
They give only enough to allow us to make up the rest in our minds instead of finding out for ourselves, together. I am very certain normal folk would have found it all out agessss ago if we had local conservatories we could go to from early childhood onwards. Oh mannnn, that would be the best..... imagine that! x    
Comment icon #60 Posted by Myles 5 years ago
Chances of us reaching a billion years old is very slim.  
Comment icon #61 Posted by Robotic Jew 5 years ago
Agreed. With the state of the world these days aiming for 100 more seems far fetched.
Comment icon #62 Posted by SmartAZ 5 years ago
I would like to know exactly how they determined that it was 1 1/2 billion light-years away. The longest measuring stick we have is the diameter of the Earth's orbit, which allows accurate measurement of things out to about 3200 light-years. Anything beyond that is a guess. A highly scientific guess, but still a guess.
Comment icon #63 Posted by bison 5 years ago
Radio impulses are frequency dispersed by interacting with gas and dust, as they travel through space. That means that some of the frequencies from a given impulse will arrive earlier than others. The greater the distance they've traveled, the greater this dispersion.   Knowing the amount of dispersion for relatively nearby sources, with distances arrived at by other means, and not necessarily just parallax, the distance indicated by any amount of dispersion can be calculated. Not a perfect system, of course, but it appears generally reliable. Much better than a mere guess.  Of course, i... [More]

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