Are aliens trying to contact us? Canadian telescope picks up mysterious radio signals from space
These are the first ever recorded 'fast radio bursts' from space under 700MHz, as detected by the CHIME telescope.
Mysterious signals from outer space known as "fast radio bursts" were picked up by a new radio telescope commissioned in British Columbia, Canada. These signals are reportedly the first ever FRBs at frequencies below 700 MHz, as detected by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) on July 25. The signal has been named FRB 180725A. That said, the source of these milliseconds-long bursts of radio emissions is unknown. Scientists say they are one of the newer "cosmic mysteries" around, first detected about a decade ago and known to come from far beyond our Milky Way galaxy.
🚨💥🇨🇦 Exciting news: the CHIME telescope has detected its fast radio burst! 🇨🇦💥🚨— Bryan Gaensler (@SciBry) August 1, 2018
Meet FRB 180725A, with DM = 716.6 pc/cm^3. Fantastic news for the hard-working team at @McGillMSI, @DunlapInstitute, @CITA_ICAT, @UBCphas, @NRC_CNRC and @Perimeter. https://t.co/AJY5AGWka0 pic.twitter.com/Yiz0FataZH
There could be several possible explanations for these signals, including exploding black holes, bursts from magnetars, or even highly advanced alien communities trying to reach out to us.
Having said that, CHIME is designed to collect data on FRBs and other sought-after questions in the field of astrophysics. As the telescope has been operational for less than a year, the detection of FRB 180725A is prelusory at this point. The discovery was reported in an online "Astronomer's Telegram" post to encourage other astronomers "to search for repeated bursts at all wavelengths."
These unknown but ubiquitous signals are estimated to arrive on Earth roughly a thousand times per day over our firmament. Being first detected and reported in 2007, only roughly two dozen FRBs were recorded until mid-2017.
Nonetheless, the CHIME FRB event rate is predicted to be between two to 50 FRBs per day. The Canadian telescope is being touted as one of the best detectors of FRBs owing to its large collection area, wide bandwidth, and enormous field-of-view.
Due to the high event-rate, researchers are saying that this relatively new astrophysical phenomenon can be studied extensively. Bright FRBs detected by CHIME are reported to the worldwise astrophysical community in real time as soon as they are discovered so that they can conduct multi-wavelength follow-up procedures to study the same.
Early indications for additional FRBs discovered in the past week suggest that they aren't coming from known sources on Earth, with frequencies clocking at 400 MHz - a significantly low figure as compared to previously known readings.
Having said that, researchers are saying that whatever is transmitting the repetitive FRB is a remarkably powerful source.
Scientists say the detection of FRB 180725A and further data surrounding the phenomenon are very preliminary at this point.
CHIME, along with other observatories, will be looking out for more clues to help solve the heavenly mystery. That said, it is "early days" for both the study of FRBs and particularly the FRB mentioned above.