FRBs are short bursts of radio waves originating from far outside of our galaxy, according to a press release about the discovery by McGill University. Now, a new FRB is getting some serious attention for a very specific reason. Many theories have been thrown out to explain them - one Harvard University professor even suggested they might be signs of alien life. One FRB in particular, FRB 121102, is special because it's the only one that seems to be repeating its signal blasts on a regular basis.
Or, more accurately, it was the only one.
At the meeting of the American Astronomical Society this week, researchers at a powerful new Canadian telescope announced the detection of 13 new fast radio bursts (FRBs) in a mere two months of observations - a 20 per cent increase over the five dozen bursts that have been found in the past 12 years.
FRBs are thought to emanate from sources billions of light years away outside our galaxy, the Milky Way.
A team of more than 50 scientists has discovered 13 more fast radio bursts, as well as the second repeating FRB ever recorded. It was originally created to delve into the mystery surrounding dark matter by mapping the distribution of interstellar hydrogen, but it also turns out to be well-suited to take on the mystery surrounding fast radio bursts.
Among them is Professor Avid Loeb, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the United States, who believes that they could be evidence of incredibly advanced alien technology.
Image: The telescope detected the signals over a three week period during the summer.
Scientists have discovered mysterious repeating radio bursts coming from space for the first time since 2007. "Our data will break open some of the mysteries of FRBs".
"[We now know] the sources can produce low-frequency radio waves and those low-frequency waves can escape their environment, and are not too scattered to be detected by the time they reach the Earth".
"Whatever the source of these radio waves is, it's interesting to see how wide a range of frequencies it can produce".
Before CHIME, the majority of FRBs detected had been found at frequencies close to 1,400 megahertz.
Loeb said we now know of two repeaters out of about 60 known sources, which "implies that the repeater population is not negligible but also represents a small minority, less than a tenth, of the entire population of FRB sources".
'Or near the central black hole in a galaxy.
"We built this instrument specifically to try and detect these fast radio bursts, and we were still in our pre-commissioning phase, running with only partial sensitivity and taking the system up and down every day or so, and yet we still detected these 13 bursts, pretty much when we turned the instrument on".