Scientists are trying to decode the origin of some of the most mysterious and strong signals in the Universe - fast radio bursts (FRBs). Fast radio bursts (FRB) is an unusual phenomenon, astronomers have observed for years. But could never able to find the exact origin and what made them. FRBs are highly energetic and only last for an instant and can release more energy in one millisecond than our Sun emits over 10,000 years.
Scientists have detected more than 20 of them, but they’re still not sure from where they come. These signals last only for milliseconds, these bursts of energy are about a billion times more luminous than anything we've ever seen in our own galaxy, and seem to be travelling across vast distances.
Now researchers are one step closer by ruling out any source on Earth.
There are many theories about the origin of FRBs but the most bizarre one put forward by Harvard scientist last month that the FRBs could actually be alien signals.
There is a quite funny story related to these type of signals, back in 1998, researchers thought they had discovered a new type of radio signal coming from space, only to figure out 17 years later that it was coming from a microwave oven in their research facility.
But the fact that we now know the answer lies in space is a big deal.
Chris Flynn from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia said: "Conventional single dish radio telescopes have difficulty establishing that transmissions originate beyond the Earth's atmosphere."
There are many reasons of why we are not able to find the origin of these FRBs but the reason which is easy to understand and has a big impact on this research is that we often find them using single-dish radio telescopes, which can 'hear' a lot without providing much perspective on where it's coming from.
Now to overcome this issue, researchers used the Molonglo telescope in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which has a collecting area of around 18,000 square meters. This huge collection area means the telescope is ideal for picking up FRBs, but back in 2013, the team also realized that because of its architecture, it's not possible for it to detect any signals coming from within our atmosphere.
It’s not easy to analyze the Molonglo’s data to find any traces of FRBs, because the telescope produces more than 1,000 TB of data each day. The idea was that if the telescope had detected the signals, then they must be coming from outer space.
In the latest research they have found three new FRBS signals in the telescope’s data, which matched with the signals picked up before, indicating that they couldn't possibly be coming from Earth.
Earlier this year researchers have found the source of a FRB to a tiny dwarf galaxy more than 3-billion light years from Earth.
Researchers have just analyzed that the sources of these three newly detected FRBs are not from Earth. The data suggest they're coming from the direction of the constellations Puppis and Hydra (signified by the three red stars below):
Manisha Caleb the lead researcher said: "Figuring out where the bursts come from is the key to understanding what makes them. Only one burst has been linked to a specific galaxy, we expect Molonglo will do this for many more bursts."
The research has been accepted for publication in an upcoming edition of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, you can read it free online.