Something powerful from the deep recesses of space sent a series of radio blasts to Earth on July 25, something so powerful that the signals were the lowest frequency ever recorded from Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). The reason these signals are so mysterious is that scientists don’t know what could have sent such powerful blasts, which last only milliseconds.
The radio bursts were received by the state-of-the-art Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope in the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory near Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.
Scientists have surmised that exploding black holes could have sent such bursts, although they also posit it is possible they came from advanced extra-terrestrial civilizations.
CHIME, which has four 328-foot-long cylinders, only started to be utilized last year. It is designed to record signals from the time the universe was between six billion and eleven billion years old. CHIME collects radio waves with wavelengths between 37 and 75 centimeters, similar to the wavelength used by ordinary cell phones.
As Patrick Boyle of McGill University wrote on “Astronomer’s Telegram,”
During its ongoing commissioning, CHIME/FRM detected FRB 180725A on 2018 July 25 at 17:59:43.115 UTC (18:59:43.15 BST/13:59:43.15 ET). The event is clearly detected at frequencies as low as 580 MHz and represents the first detection of an FRB at radio frequencies below 700 MHz. Additional FRBs have been found since FRB 180725A and some have flux at frequencies as low as 400 MHz.
Almost one year ago, on August 26, 2017, scientists with the Breakthrough Listen initiative at the University of California, Berkeley, which is devoted to discovering signs of alien intelligent life, recorded 15 repeating fast radio bursts (FRBs) from a dwarf galaxy three billion light-years away. The bursts were recorded using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.
Although some explanations were offered for the source of the FRBs, such as a neutron star collapsing into a black hole, that would have produced only one burst, not a repetitive pattern. And another explanation, that a young, highly-magnetized neutron star might be the source, was problematic because such an entity had not been detected in the region of space from which the FRB came.