Astronomers detect new wave of Fast Radio Bursts

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Astronomers have detected six new Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) from a location in the constellation Auriga bringing in more questions than answers to this already complex phenomenon.

Out of the six new FRBs five were detected with green bank telescope in West Virginia at 2 GHz and one was detected with the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico at 1.4 GHz. The six new FRBs take the total detected FRBs from this source alone to 17 and the overall tally to 24.

The paper that revealed the detection of six new FRBs has been published in The Astrophysical Journal wherein authors have stated that all have dispersion measures consistent with a single value that is three times the predicted maximum galactic contribution. The team also mentioned that the data support an origin in a young rotating neutron star, pulsar or a magnetar travelling through an asteroid belt.

FRB is a high-energy astrophysical phenomenon manifested as a transient radio pulse lasting only for a few milliseconds. They are bright, unresolved, broadband millisecond flashes found outside the Milky Way.

While a single FRB could have multiple explanations, multiple FRBs from approximately the same location indicate that there is something else at play according to astronomers. Multiple bursts in short succession imply that the FRBs are a repeating phenomenon, not unlike a signal and there are likely two possible explanations: flares from a neutron star or a much larger star or signals from an alien species that is trying to contact other intelligent species out there.

Astronomers have been looking at these FRBs and in a paper published in 2015, physicist John Learned, with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and astronomer Michael Hippke with the Institute for Data Analysis argued that the repetitive nature of the FRB waves are show a consistency between the dispersion measure (the difference in arrival times between high and low frequencies) showing a 1 in 2,000 chance of being coincidental.

The duo speculated that the FRBs could result from a superdense star whose physics may allow for regular bursts of radio waves, or a human-built spy satellite which disguises its transmissions to appear as signals from deep space.

Another explanation, something that resembles a hoax, is that extraterrestrials are trying to get in touch with us. If the FRBs are of intelligent origin, it could then be a civilization advanced enough to command the energy of an entire star, meaning they would be technologically many thousands of years ahead of humanity.

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