Astronomers recently announced a new discovery: a mysterious signal from a galaxy 3 billion light years away.
This intense burst of radio waves was one of dozens of similar signals, totally random and totally unexplained.
There’s a whole invisible universe out there that we can’t see with our eyes. In West Virginia, a radio telescope searches this unexplained universe. It’s untroubled by the clouds, because what it sees are radio waves, falling all around us like the rain.
And while searching the skies for colliding stars and black holes, astronomers found a spike in radio waves. That spike is a Fast Radio Burst. It’s a total mystery.
It could be related to black holes or to neutron stars. Or … maybe aliens?
“It could be aliens. Of course it could be aliens. But you know, if it were, that’s a mighty funny signal to be getting. And that’s the reason you tend to think of it as a natural phenomenon,” admits a scientist.
And that’s the thing. The Fast Radio Bursts seem to be one-off, random blasts of very strong energy. Not a series of controlled signals like you would see from an alien civilization.
Whatever FRBs are, it’s something really cool. It’s a new phenomenon, and it’s a phenomenon that will certainly teach us more about the universe and just how it works.