An American research team has discovered radio pulses emanating from a mysterious and repeating source – FRB 121102 – far across the universe.

This sequence of 14 of the 15 detected bursts illustrate their dispersed spectrum and extreme variability.

The 15 radio pulses emanate from a galaxy three billion light years away and the researchers are still not sure what the source of the signals could be.

It is researchers working at the Breakthrough Listen‘ project that detected the signals. A project founded with large contributions from private financiers and is currently the most comprehensive search for extra terrestrial intelligence in outer space.

The signals have been captured by several telescopes around the world. More than 150 high-energy bursts have been observed coming from the object. But these signals detected by researchers at Berkeley University in California, are both stronger and clearer than those seen before. Exactly what causes them is still unknown.

They are high energy signals, short pulses that repeat itself. They aren’t all that dissimilar from other signals detected before. Besides the elephant in the room, namely aliens, it may be a type of neutron star that has very strong magnetic fields that rotate and send out pulses according to the researchers – a so-called magnetar.

This artist’s impression shows a magnetar, a type of neutron star with an extremely powerful magnetic field. The magnetic field decay powers the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation, particularly X-rays and gamma rays. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

The signals come from the only known place in the universe where the signals repeat, making it easier to search for the source. In addition, an explosion can be ruled out, being constantly repeated.

Addressing aliens seems kind of necessary, hypothetically, if there is a civilization that has managed to produce spacecraft that runs at extremely high speeds that require extreme amounts of energy to run. This could be the something similar to a bow-wave from a boat on the fabric of space-time.

The signals derived from a dwarf galaxy a staggering three billion light years away. This means that the signals are extremely powerful to successfully get through all that background noise it encounters in space during its path here. It also makes the hypothetical extra terrestrial intelligent civilization a little far fetched.

First detected with the Parkes Telescope in Australia, fast radio bursts have now been seen by several radio telescopes around the world. FRB 121102 was discovered on Nov. 2, 2012, (hence its name) and in 2015 it was the first fast radio burst seen to repeat


Berkley News: Distant galaxy sends out 15 high-energy radio bursts