Australian astronomers have captured a mysterious “alien” radio signal from space live as it happened for the first time. The radio signal was discovered on May 15, 2014, but it has just been revealed by the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“The burst was identified within 10 seconds of its occurrence. The importance of the discovery was recognized very quickly and we were all working very excitedly to contact other astronomers and telescopes around the world to look at the location of the burst.
“The first fast radio burst was discovered in 2007, and up until our discovery there were 8 more found in old or archival data.
“We're confident that they're coming from natural sources, that is to say it's probably not aliens, but we haven't solved the case completely. The two most promising theories at the moment are that these bursts could be produced either by a star producing a highly energetic flare, or from a neutron star collapsing to make a black hole. Both of these things would be from sources in far-away galaxies just reaching us from billions of light years away.
“Finding one in real-time has been the goal for a while because we would then be able to act on it and mobilize other telescopes to look that way. We did this in the case of this real-time discovery, but we didn't get on the target until about eight hours later with other telescopes, at which time nothing was found.
“All we can do is learn from our experience with this discovery and create a more efficient system for next time. We still spend a large amount of time looking for fast radio bursts with the Parkes telescope and the next time we are in the right place at just the right time, we'll be able to act faster than ever before and hopefully solve the mystery once and for all," Emily Petroff, a doctoral student from Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology said.
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