Mysterious radio signals from space have been known to repeat, but this time, researchers have observed a pattern in a series of bursts coming from a single source that is almost half a billion light-years from Earth.
What or who regularly sends radio signals to Earth from distant space?
A mysterious object, located at an incredible distance of 470 million light-years from us, sends incomprehensible messages to our planet every 16 days without interruption.
The extremely distant point is identified in astronomy as FRB 180916.J0158 + 65 and is located in a region of active star formation in a massive spiral galaxy.
The mysterious radio signals coming from the unidentified distant object are sent in a pattern.
Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are millisecond-long bursts of radio waves in space and over the course of four days, the signal would release a burst or two each hour, then goes silent for 12 consecutive days.
Once the 12 days pass, everything repeats, and thus these mysterious signals have a 16-day cycle.
Usually, when they repeat, it’s sporadic or in a cluster, according to previous observations.
The mysterious signals were observed and computed by the advanced Canadian radio telescope CHIME, which tracked a special type of signal for over 400 days.
Experts still do not have a unified theory as to which object emits such signals and why.
So far, the researchers have traced single and repeating fast radio bursts back to very different sources, which deepens the mystery.
Fast radio bursts (FRB) were tracked in 2007 for the first time but only recently have scientists stumbled upon a specific object that sends them and it is located 470 million light-years from Earth.
The radio bursts are very short, but at the same time, the power of the burst is such that, according to experts, it may be equal to the energy emission of our Sun over thousands of years.
Astronomers do not know what is their source, but at the same time they rule out the theory that the signals are sent by an extraterrestrial civilization, because they are too “inappropriate and ineffective”.
“If it were an alien beacon, then I think it would be emitting faster signals because a 16-day period is not effective for communication.”Dr. Leon Oostrum of the Netherlands Institute of Radio Astronomy
Another theory suggests that, the cycle of the mysterious signals is probably associated with the orbit of rotation of its source – a planet, an asteroid, or something else.
Every 16 days, this object passes through its orbit, and in the first 4 days, it is at the point from which the signals leave in the direction of the Earth.
Then it goes further into the orbit and the Earth does not receive signals, but after 12 days everything starts over again.
The researchers believe that future observations could help them determine if other repeating fast radio bursts have a pattern.
That way, they’ll know if this kind of periodicity is the exception or routine behavior and hopefully, that will lead them to the source of these mysterious signals.