Researchers have uncovered a mysterious mathematical pattern within fast radio bursts that originated outside of our solar system, leading some to question whether the signals could be evidence of alien life.
Fast Radio Bursts are a unique type of signal, first noted in 2001, according to the New Scientist. Lasting just milliseconds, they appear from nowhere, and have baffled scientists since they were first detected. Now, researchers studying the dispersion patterns of the signals have determined that the delay between the first and last waves of each radio burst always presents as a multiple of 187.5. According to them, no known natural process can account for the phenomenon.
— Daniel Formigo (@daniel_formigo) February 14, 2015
When each radio burst arrives, it blankets a range of radio frequencies. Traveling through space, however, electrons get scattered, meaning the higher energy, high frequency portion of the signal arrives before the lower frequencies. The difference between the two is called the dispersion measure, and in each of the ten recorded radio bursts, that measurement is always a multiple of 187.5
John Learned at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, along with Michael Hippke of the Institute for Data Analysis in Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany, are responsible for the discovery, according to the Daily Mail. They contend that there is only a five in 10,000 chance that the pattern found in the alien radio bursts is a coincidence.
— Robin Simpson (@robin182zz) February 28, 2015
“There is something really interesting we need to understand,” Hippke noted. “This will either be new physics, like a new kind of pulsar, or, in the end, if we can exclude everything else, an ET.”
Though it is unknown what causes the fast radio bursts, astronomers have postulated a number of theories. Flaring stars or white dwarf mergers have been advanced as the possible genesis of the radio bursts, though the signals are not found near known pulsing stars in our galaxy. The collision of neutron stars, or the sudden collapse of one (known as a Blitzar), have also been suggested as the sources of the radio bursts. Inevitably, some have also postulated that the signals could be of intelligent origin, marking our first proof of alien life outside of our solar system.
— Baerbel Koribalski (@HIgalaxies) February 22, 2015
Last year, a fast radio burst was detected by the Arecibo radio telescope, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Measurement of that signal seemed to indicate that the alien radio bursts originated from outside our galaxy, though Hippke and Learned now assert that the signals could come from within the Milky Way.
[Image via ESO/José Francisco Salgado ]