This is only the second time ever there has been a repeating radio blast from deep in space, adding to the mystery of life in the universe besides our own and adds to the opportunity for scientist to understand what may be in the galaxies beyond ours.
Assistant professor of physics Laura Newburgh is part of a Canadian-led experiment that has detected the second-known example of a repeating fast radio burst (FRB) originating far outside the Milky Way galaxy. No one knows what causes them, but they're unlike anything else we've observed - and their uniqueness makes them a prime target for detection in noisy data.
As such, till it's proven otherwise, these FRBs could be like the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment - rumblings of an alien Honey Singh, rapping on in a distant galaxy for the conspiracy theorists out there, while still remaining nothing more than the final goodbyes of a dying black hole for dismissive scientists.
The only other detected repeating FRB signal was picked up in November 2012. Intriguingly, one of these newly documented bursts is a repeater, becoming just the second-known repeating fast radio burst among the 60 documented so far.
The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) is a radio telescope created to answer major questions in astrophysics and cosmology, including the phenomena of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), fleeting and intense radio bursts with an unknown origin. These effects vary with frequency, and many of them become stronger at lower frequencies.
The latest results settled these doubts, with the majority of the 13 bursts being recorded well down to the lowest frequencies in the radio telescope's range.
The FRBs discovered were omitting unusually low frequencies, with previously detected FRBs having frequencies around 1,400 megahertz and the new discoveries bellow 800 MHz. The telescope functions round the clock and scans the entire northern sky to catch transient FRBs. "So explaining their nature has become one of the biggest unsolved problems in astrophysics in the last few years".
The telescope processes radio signals recorded by thousands of atennas with a large signal processing system and is the largest of any on earth. "Instead it uses digital signal processing to "point" the telescope and reconstruct where the radio waves are coming from", says Masui. CHIME was originally built as a tool to map hydrogen to figure out some questions on dark energy, but FRB hunters found the observatory's enormous field of view especially helpful for detecting the elusive radio signals. "That tells us something about the environments and the sources", said CHIME team member Dr. Tom Landecker, a scientist at the National Research Council of Canada.