For the first time since 2007, when the first-ever fast radio burst (FRB) was registered, a periodicity was detected in an FRB source. At a 500 million light-years distance, a mysterious yet specific astrophysical event causes bursts repeatedly and follows a regular pattern. That distance means the powerful signal is coming from the extragalactic space, in the outskirts of a massive spiral galaxy.
Three different assumptions are being made: a lower-mass black hole companion, a binary system containing a massive star and a neutron star, or they could be artificial radio beams. Yes, we are talking about the possibility that it’s coming from an alien civilization.
Signal From an Outer Galaxy Has Repeatedly Reached Earth
The latter is very unlikely, even if Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard’s astronomy department, said that “a small fraction of nearby FRBs could be artificial radio beams sweeping across the sky.”
Fast Radio Bursts were documented for 13 years, but they almost always seemed to be random events. Less than 70 FRBs were spotted. Almost because there are a few others that have been detected to repeat, but in seemingly unpredictable ways, this new radio burst seems to be a regular repeater. It might become a generic phenomenon. That means is to begin as a distinctive phenomenon identifier and change in meaning to become generic.
The repeater FRB 180916.J0158+65 was probed using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment in British Columbia. From September 2018 and until October 2019, its signals clustered into a period of four days, and then stopped for the next 12 days. On the 16th day, it started again. The mantra repeats once every 16.35 days.
What Are the FRBs?
They are transient radio pulse of length caused by some high-energy astrophysical process not yet understood. They range from a fraction of a millisecond to a few milliseconds. They are incredibly energetic at their source. Until they reach Earth, the strength of the signal is 1,000 times less than from a mobile phone on the Moon.