Scientists record 15 more radio bursts from deep space dwarf galaxy

The new FRBs were spotted this weekend by a team led by UC Berkeley Postdoctoral Researcher Dr. Vishal Gajjar who accumulated 400 TB of data on the object over a period of 5 hours using the Green Bank Telescope

One burst first observed in 2012, named FRB 121102, was later found to repeat in 2015.

The signals, called fast radio bursts (or FRBs for short), have puzzled scientists for years. It resides in a dwarf galaxy about 3 billion light years away from Earth.

FRBs from this source have never been seen at such high frequencies, explained Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center and Breakthrough Listen, the highest of which reached 7 GHz.

"Just to be clear, we don't know what is causing the fast radio bursts we see, but we don't think it's anything to do with aliens!" wrote astronomer Emily Petroff of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy in 2015 in relation to a different FRB detected by her team. FRB 121102 was discovered on November 2, 2012, (hence its name) and in 2015 it was the first fast radio burst seen to repeat, ruling out theories of bursts' origins that involved the catastrophic destruction of the progenitor, at least in this instance. After finding the weird nature of the galaxy, scientists globally started monitoring and tracking its repeating burst, and now the Breakthrough Listen team finally succeeded in finding out 15 new pulses, coming from the same FRB 121102. However, some have dared to venture that the bursts from FRB 121102 could conceivably originate from huge transmitters powering an interstellar spacecraft. Over five hours of surveillance, the team used Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and gathered 400 terabytes of data over the 4 to 8 GHz C-band or frequency band, which is usually employed for satellite communications transmissions.

Breakthrough Listen, an initiative looking for extra-terrestrials detected over 15 radio bursts coming from a dwarf galaxy about 3 million light years away from Earth.




"The distinctive shape that the dispersion imposes on the initial pulse is an indicator of the amount of material between us and the source, and hence an indicator of the distance to the host galaxy", Breakthrough said in its report. At that time, earth was home to only single-celled organisms. Astronomers have now detected over 150 "high-energy pulses" from FRB 121102, which was discovered in 2012 and identified a year ago as coming from a dwarf galaxy.

The series of bursts shows that the source is in a "newly active state", said postdoctoral researcher Vishal Gajjar.

Despite scientists found that these 15 FRBs repeated one by one, they have also observed others that re-appeared within a longer period of time. But proving this assumption wrong, a team of scientists in 2016 published an article in the journal Nature where they revealed about the finding of repeating radio signals, coming from FRB 121102.

Breakthrough Listen is a scientific program in search for evidence of technological life in the Universe.

"We do know that the universe is capable of producing intelligent civilizations that can produce technology", said Siemion.

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