17:48 GMT29 November 2020
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    Last month, a team of scientists made the astonishing discovery that a mysterious source in a galaxy some 500 million lightyears from Earth was systematically sending out fast radio burst radio pulses in 16.35 day cycles. The discovery has led to an intense debate about the signal’s origins.

    The recently discovered fast radio burst (FRB) signals being beamed toward Earth in a never-before-observed pattern by astronomers at the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity mapping Experiment Fast Radio Burst Project (CHIME/FRB) may have extraterrestrial origins after all, the chair of Harvard University’s astronomy department has suggested.

    Speaking to Futurism, Dr. Avi Loeb explained that although the fast radio bursts may have been generated by a young neutron star with an extremely powerful magnetic field known as a ‘magnetar’, “at the moment we do not have a smoking gun that clearly indicates the nature of FRBs.”

    “So all possibilities should be considered, including an artificial origin,” the professor stressed. One exciting possibility, according to Loeb, is that the FRBs are radiation leaking away from an alien civilization’s use of a radically advanced technology using powerful energy beams to propel spacecraft through space.

    Having studied the idea in a 2017 paper in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Dr. Loeb admitted that the amounts of power required to accomplish such a feat would be almost unfathomable given the current limitations of human technology. “The main technological challenge is in the huge power that the radio beam need[s] to carry,” he explained, saying the beam would have to concentrate an amount of energy equivalent to all the sunlight which hits our planet.

    “This would require a huge engineering project, far more ambitious than we currently have on Earth,” he noted.

    So…Are We Alone?

    Dr. Loeb’s hypothesis is a welcome one for astronomy enthusiasts hoping that the repeating FRB signals aren’t a natural phenomenon. Recently, astronomers, astrobiologists and physicists speaking to Science Alert poured cold water on the ‘aliens’ theory, with Dr. Charles Lineweaver of the Australian National University saying non-scientists and the media have become too nonchalant in invoking aliens for any cosmic phenomena which science has yet to explain or understand.

    CHIME/FRB discovered the repeating signals in 2017, with the FRBs repeating steadily ever since, albeit at a rate some 600 times fainter than at first. In their study, researchers carefully analyzed 28 bursts taking place between September 2018 and October 2019, confirming a pattern running in 16.35 day cycles, including 1-2 bursts per hour over a four day period followed by 12 days of silence before the cycle repeated. The signal was said to have come from a star-forming galaxy about 500 million light years from Earth. Scientists didn’t know what to make of the signal source, presenting several possible natural astronomical phenomena, but not ruling out an artificial source.


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